Emissions pledges fall way short: leaked memo

2009-12-18 09:55

Pledges tabled so far at the UN climate talks for curbing

greenhouse-gas emissions would doom the world to warming of as much as three

degrees Celsius, an internal UN memo showed.

Nations most at risk from rising sea levels have been pushing for

commitments to limit the rise to no more than 1.5 C over pre-industrial levels

while many other countries endorse a maximum of 2.0 C.

But the memo seen by AFP concludes that even the top-end offers on

the table at the negotiations would set the planet on course for a 3.0 C

warming, a scenario viewed by scientists as deeply worrying.

The memo, marked “very confidential”, dates from late Wednesday.


highlights a significant gap between mitigation pledges – from both rich

countries and emerging economies – and what is “needed to achieve stabilisation

of the concentration of emissions in the atmosphere that is consistent with the

goal of staying below 2.0 C.”

Unless the gap is closed, “global emissions will remain on an

unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations (of carbon dioxide)

equal or above 550 parts per million (ppm) with the related temperature raise

around 3.0 C,” said the document.

More than 100 mainly poor and vulnerable countries have staked out

a position calling for a ceiling of only a 1.5 C increase, which corresponds to

carbon dioxide concentrations of 350 ppm.

The memo was authenticated by the secretariat of the UN Framework

Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), tasked with shepherding the hugely

complex talks to a successful conclusion.

“All these studies, including the leaked UNFCCC report, are aiming

at a level of emissions in 2020 that would give at best a 50% chance of keeping

warming below two degrees,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

“This is like playing Russian roulette with three bullets in the


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