WWF: UN assessment confirms world is standing on the brink of climate catastrophe



Posted on 21 November 2012  | 
WWF supporters join a protest march at the UNFCCC climate talks in Durban South Africa calling for food, water and energy for all.
© WWFEnlarge
 The UN Environment Program’s Emissions Gap Report 2012, released today, identifies a huge gap between current pledges to cut polluting greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and the benchmark of 44 gigatonnes that offers a credible pathway to staying below 2°C. Last year, UNEP put the gap between pledges and what’s needed at 6-11 gigatonnes – but has now increased this estimate to an alarming 8-13 gigatonnes. In context, annual emissions from the US and China are currently around 7 and 10 to 11 gigatonnes, respectively.

“UNEP’s assessment confirms that the world is standing on the brink,” says Samantha Smith, head of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative. “On current levels of ambition, we are heading for warming of 4°C this century – a prospect that the World Bank this week described as ‘devastating’. In the face of such sobering assessments by some of the world’s largest institutions, we have to ask – what will it take for our leaders to listen and act?”

There are a range of actions that can be taken immediately to begin to close the gap, including at the UN climate summit in Doha which begins next week:

Governments must agree clear processes to increase ambition further before 2020, in the context of a promised new international agreement to be struck in 2015.

Governments must agree on robust common accounting rules for greenhouse gas emissions, and also agree to retire the large amounts of surplus “hot air” emission credits currently swilling around in the system.

Countries, including European countries, should also move to the top end of their emission pledges for 2020, and come forward with credible plans for meeting or exceeding them.

Governments must agree strong reforms to carbon market mechanisms to prevent double counting of offset credits and to rule out offsets that do not need to clear net emission reductions.

“UNEP shows clearly that it is still feasible to get back on track for a safer climate future, but that every year’s delay makes the task harder,” says Smith.

“The solutions are all in our grasp – energy efficiency, clean renewable energy, smarter transport systems, action to protect our forests and a move to more sustainable agriculture. By far the biggest barrier to delivering these is the collective and individual failure of political will. Unless we act urgently, future generations will not forgive us,” she says.

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For more information please contact

Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwf.org.za / +27 82 553 4211 (please send SMS if urgent)
Sam Smith ssmith@wwf.no

About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

The Global Climate & Energy Initiative (GCEI) is WWF’s global programme addressing climate change, promoting renewable and sustainable energy, scaling up green finance, engaging the private sector and working nationally and internationally on implementing low carbon, climate resilient development.

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WWF supporters join a protest march at the UNFCCC climate talks in Durban South Africa calling for food, water and energy for all.
© WWF Enlarge

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