As UN talks flounder, Greenpeace sounds the alarm for the climate

bonn, Germany — Greenpeace today activated a loud alarm outside the UN climate talks in Bonn, calling for emergency action on climate change. Locked onto the back of a truck, activists set off the siren in an attempt to wake up governments who are sleepwalking their way into catastrophic climate change instead of making progress toward a strong climate agreement to be concluded in Copenhagen in December.

“There is a group of countries who clearly have absolutely no intention of saving the planet from dangerous climate change,” said Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace International. “The US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada are acting as if there is no climate crisis at all, and are putting their own short term political self-interest ahead of this global emergency”

As it stands, the combined average target for the developed world amounts to greenhouse gas emission cuts of around a mere 8-15% below 1990 levels by 2020. Yesterday, Japan confirmed that it would cut emissions by only 8%. New Zealand has yet to make any commitment to a target at all; Canada’s emissions are likely to increase; Australia will only act if others do, and the US is dragging its feet with a paltry 4% cut.

To have any chance of staying below a global temperature rise of two degrees C, these countries must make combined cuts of 40% by 2020 and virtually eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To date, the targets they have announced could see the world heading towards a three degree C average global temperature rise, or more, which would wreak havoc on the climate.

While the EU could be a leader, its finance ministers showed this week that they, too, have no intention of reaching out to those countries most vulnerable to climate change. They failed to come up with the investment to help developing countries adapt to climate change, stop deforestation and make the shift to a low carbon economy that would benefit us all.

“Europe has to make the choice – will it continue to sit on the sidelines and watch the other developed countries wreck our hopes of climate saving Treaty at the Copenhagen Summit in December, or will it step up and fight to avert catastrophic climate change?” asked Kaiser.

“A three deg C rise in global temperature would lead to catastrophic and irreversible consequences for the planet. We could lose every third species on the planet, most of the Amazon rainforests and trigger irreversible melting of Greenland and West-Antarctic ice sheets. Countries are gambling with gigantic consequences which, if triggered, cannot be reversed with all the money in the world,” said Kaiser. “Yet we are seeing none of the same urgency or seriousness with which the world has treated the global economic crisis”.

Heads of State attending the upcoming G8 Summit must now take personal responsibility to turn the talks around. By attending December’s Copenhagen Climate Summit, they must avert a climate catastrophe and guarantee the strong climate deal the world needs.

Published on: 2009-06-11

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