15 June 2009


The latest round of UN talks on climate change concluded recently in Bonn, Germany.

Despite agreement on the text of a document to be used as a starting point for the negotiations, on one of the key issues – how much industrialized nations should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the short-term – finding agreement still remains a contentious issue.

A clear agreement on reduction targets for 2020 is essential if a global deal is to be reached in Copenhagen in December.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), developed countries would need to slash their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 to constrain global warming to 2ºC. If temperatures rise more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, dangerous climate impacts are highly probable.

Speaking in London recently leading scientists – including 20 Nobel prize winners – reiterated that message, adding that to get on the right pathway, global greenhouse gas emissions must also peak by 2015 at the latest.

Most industrialized nations have now roughly stated where they stand on reducing their emissions by 2020. Germany has pledged reductions of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, and the European Union as a whole will decrease its emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020 if other nations agree to binding targets.

But the current level of Australian and US commitments falls far short of the near-term targets needed by developed nations. Under proposed legislation, the US will decrease its emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, whilst Australia will commit to a domestic reduction target of 25% on 2000 levels by 2020 in the context of an ambitious global outcome.

In the meantime, emerging economies such as India and China are calling for all rich countries to sign up to the same level of commitment as Germany whilst the grouping of Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) have called for developed countries to cut emissions by at least 45% by 2020.

Oxfam Australia is encouraging everyone to make their concerns and wishes for climate change known to the government.

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