Developing countries pledge bigger cuts to greenhouse gas emissions than the world's richest nations
Jason Garman - 10/06/2011
A new study for Oxfam reveals that developing countries are pledging to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by more than developed countries. Oxfam estimates that over 60 per cent of emissions cuts by 2020 are likely to be made by developing countries.
Delegates from 195 countries are gathering in Bonn, Germany this week to resume negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change. At last December's climate conference in Cancun, countries recorded their pledges to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but making comparisons between them has proved difficult because every country calculates and records their pledges in different ways.
The new analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), commissioned as part of Oxfam's new global GROW campaign, compares four of the most widely respected studies of these pledges. All the studies show that developing countries have pledged to make bigger cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions than industrialised countries, compared to a business-as-usual scenario.
Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand said, "One of the main stumbling blocks over the past four years of climate change negotiations has been that governments of rich countries, including New Zealand, have refused to make strong commitments to cut their emissions unless developing nations did the same. From Oxfam's perspective, this isn't fair, because it fails to recognise that poor countries didn't cause climate change and shouldn't have to shoulder an equal share of the burden for it. But more importantly, this study shows it's a false argument poor countries have already pledged to do more.
"New Zealand can no longer hide behind the argument that we're doing our fair share to avoid dangerous climate change that would devastate the lives of vulnerable people in the poorest countries. It is clear we are not doing so. We know what it will take to keep global warming from exceeding 1.5°C.
"We call on the government to develop a plan to pull our weight and avoid massive damage and suffering to those who cannot defend themselves. New Zealand needs to prepare our plan for a low-carbon future as agreed in the UN negotiations," said Coates.
Oxfam's analysis shows that the total emissions cuts pledged by all countries are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures rising above the 2°C target agreed by governments in Cancun. Global temperature increases of more than 1.5°C will have catastrophic consequences for societies across the globe.
Coates said; "In the end, cutting emissions isn't about who does the most, but whether the total efforts are enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming we will either sink or swim together. The pledges currently on the table mean we are sinking."
The new analysis of efforts on emissions cuts comes days after Oxfam published a report Growing a Better Future which forecasts that average prices of staple foods such as maize will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030. Up to half of this increase will be driven by climate change.
Coates said, "We need bolder action to cut emissions and stop climate change driving generations of children into hunger. All countries must step up and deliver their fair share of the emissions reductions needed. Countries must also ensure the most vulnerable get the support they need to adapt. Rocketing food prices signal climate change red alert."
Oxfam is calling for action on climate change as part of a new global GROW campaign to ensure everyone always has enough to eat. For more information go to:
Sources of information used by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Oxfam Commissioned the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) to use four of the most well-respected sources of information about the emissions pledges made since Copenhagen to represent the variety of mitigation pledges made by developed and developing countries in terms of their emissions reductions in 2020 below what would have been the case without the policies (a 'business-as-usual' baseline).
The four sources are: the UNEP Emissions Gap Report (UNEP, 2010); Frank Jotzo (co-author of the Garnaut Report) (Jotzo, 2010); the McKinsey Climate Desk with additional analysis by SEI (McKinsey, 2011); and Climate Action Tracker (Climate Action Tracker, 2010; 2011). The study will be the basis for a forthcoming SEI overview of the major recent analyses of the pledges.
For further information please contact:
Jason Garman, email@example.com, 09 358 5902, 021 202 5096
A copy of Oxfam's report Growing a Better Future can be downloaded here:
- Climate change is already estimated to have increased the amount we spend on food worldwide by US$50 billion a year. 1
- Oxfam projects world prices of staple food crops will double by 2030, with around 50 per cent of the increase driven by climate change. 2
- Up to 20 per cent more people will be at risk of hunger by 2050 because of climate change. Almost all will be in developing countries, with 65 per cent expected to be in Africa. 3
- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa could experience catastrophic declines in yield of 2030 per cent by 2080, rising as high as 50 per cent in Sudan and Senegal. 4
1 Lobell, D. et al. (2011) Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980, Science Express, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/05/04/science.1204531.abstract
2 Oxfam (2011) Growing a Better Future: Food Justice in a Resource-constrained World, http://www.oxfam.org.nz/resources/onlinereports/growing-better-future-report.pdf
3 World Food Programme (2009) Climate Change and Hunger: Responding to the Challenge, http://www.wfp.org/content/climate-change-and-hunger-responding-challenge
4 Cline, W (2007) Gobal Warming and Agriculture: Impact estimates by country, http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/14090