Developing Countries Pledge Deeper Emissions Cuts Than Rich Nations

Over 60% of emissions cuts achieved by 2020 are likely to come from developing countries, not industrialized nations, according to a study conducted for Oxfam.  

Developing nations – most of which produce far fewer emissions than advanced countries – are still pledging larger greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts, although all the cuts combined fall far short of preventing uncontrollable climate change. 

"All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

"It’s time for governments from Europe to the US to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists. Their competitors in developing countries – from China to India and Brazil – have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind," warns Tim Gore, Oxfam’s climate change policy advisor. 

Oxfam’s analysis shows the total emissions cuts pledged by all countries are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Centigrade, the threshold world governments agreed not to exceed during the Cancun Climate Change Summit. 

They agreed that global temperature increases over 1.5 degrees would have catastrophic consequences for societies across the globe. Global temperatures have increased  1.9 C – the world is on the precipice.

"In the end, cutting emissions isn’t about who does the most, but whether the total efforts are enough to avoid devastating levels of global warming – we will either sink or swim together. The pledges currently on the table mean we are sinking," adds Gore.

Delegates from 195 countries resumed negotiations in Bonn, Germany this week to once again attempt to hammer out a global treaty to tackle climate change.

At last December’s climate conference in Cancun, countries recorded their pledges to cut GHG emissions, 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 GHG emissions than industrialized countries, compared to a business as usual scenario.

The study shows that:

  • China’s total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020
  • The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.
  • The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil – the BASIC countries – could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries – the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

Oxfam’s other recent report, "Growing a Better Future,"  forecasts that average prices of staple foods such as maize will increase between 120-180% by 2030. Up to half of this increase will be driven by climate change.

"Rocketing food prices signal climate change red alert," Gore says.  

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