Press releases

Ambition of only 2 developed countries sufficient for Copenhagen Accord meeting 2°C target

Published: 02/02/2010

Cologne, Berlin, New York,  2 February 2010 - Only 2 out of 10 developed countries' reduction targets submitted to the Copenhagen Accord qualify as ‘sufficient' to keep global temperature rise below 2°C, finds the update of the 'Climate Action Tracker'. The reduction targets of all countries currently associated with the Accord lead to a striking inconsistency with the 2°C goal defined in the very same Accord. The current pledges leave the world heading for a global warming of over 3oC above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

The Climate Action Tracker is a science based assessment of Ecofys, Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) that regularly provides updated information on countries' greenhouse gas reduction proposals.

The ambition level of the major countries as submitted for the Accord has not changed compared to the level proposed in December in Copenhagen. Of the developed countries Russia slightly increased its ambition level, Canada decreased its ambition level, while Kazakhstan proposed a reduction target for the first time. Of the developing countries, no major countries changed their proposals. Mexico, the host country for the next climate summit in November this year, did not submit by 31 January 2010. Israel, Marshall Islands and Moldova proposed quantitative targets for the first time. The African countries Ethiopia, Jordan, Madagascar, Morocco, Congo and Sierra Leone provided qualitative information.

To compare the actual pledge with what is necessary for each country, the Climate Action Tracker uses a range of scenarios that would define a fair national share in the global 2°C effort, as given by the scientific literature. These scenarios are based on different principles, such as an equal emissions per capita, staged participation of countries based on historical responsibility or comparable abatement costs per unit of GDP.

Niklas Höhne of Ecofys, who leads the analysis team at Ecofys, is not very optimistic about reaching a global agreement on equitable contributions at the next Climate Summit. "Many countries have already submitted a higher pledge, on the condition that other countries will contribute likewise. But even these higher pledges will not be sufficient." The Accord does not provide for a mechanism to collectively increase the ambition level, like a global emission goal in 2020 or reaching a global 50% emission reduction by 2050 as stated by the G8 in 2009. Such a 2050 goal was included in earlier draft versions of the Accord, but did not make it into the final version.

"While the emissions in the next decade do not completely determine the World's chances of keeping temperature increase below 2°C in the long term", says Michiel Schaeffer, who led Climate Analytics' team, "emissions by 2020 at these proposed levels create two big problems for the time period thereafter. Firstly, the limited drive to divert investments away from a fossil-fuel intensive track reduces the chance of achieving the more stringent reductions required later on. Secondly, even if deeper longer-term reductions are attained (as agreed by the G8), the high shorter-term emissions implied by the current reduction targets for 2020 lead to a chance of over 50% of exceeding 2°C shortly after 2050".

Different ambitions
The Climate Action Tracker reveals major differences between the ambition levels of countries when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the lead are the Maldives and Costa Rica, which have proposed to become climate-neutral by around 2020. At the high end of the scale are Norway, Japan and Brazil, which are proposing to reduce their emissions significantly. In the ‘medium' range are developing countries such as India, Indonesia and South Korea, which propose to reduce the growth of their emissions by the 2020s. The EU is a special case. Its unconditional commitment of 20% reduction is rated ‘inadequate'. However, the adoption of the 30% reduction target would move the EU into the ‘medium' range and very close to ‘sufficient'.

China is rated ‘inadequate', because it's recently announced target falls short of the ambition level that was expected from the implementation of the current national policies. Between the middle and the bottom of the scale is the United States, whose target is 'inadequate'.  At the very bottom end of the scale are countries that have yet to propose substantial action beyond 'business as usual'. Russia is among these countries.

Notes to Editors
The web-based based climate policy assessment system ´Climate Action Tracker´ was developed by Ecofys, Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). It provides a picture of each country's proposed commitments and actions and how these contribute to total greenhouse gas emission reductions globally. It has been online since November 2009.

You can find the Climate Action Tracker at Ecofys, Climate Analytics and PIK are research organizations that specialize in energy and climate-related issues.

For further information, not for publication.

Yvonne Kettmann
Press Office
Am Wassermann 36
50829 Cologne
T: +49 (0)221 27070-110

Climate Analytics
Michiel Schaeffer,

About the Climate Action Tracker team
Dr Niklas Höhne, Director energy and climate policies at Ecofys and lead author at the IPCC, developed, together with Dr Michel den Elzen from MNP, the table in the IPCC report that is the basis for the reduction range of -25% to -40% below 1990 levels by 2020 that is currently being discussed for Annex I countries. The Ecofys team includes Katja Eisbrenner, Christian Ellermann, Markus Hagemann, Sara Moltmann and others.

Dr Michiel Schaeffer - Co-Director and Senior Scientist at Climate Analytics, which includes Policy Analyst Kirsten Macey, among others.

Dr Claudine Chen works on the PRIMAP model at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), along with Julia Nabel, Joeri Rogelj, and other members of the PRIMAP team ( Dr Bill Hare (PIK and Climate Analytics) was a Lead Author of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and is the co-leader of the PRIMAP team, with Dr Malte Meinshausen of PIK.

About Ecofys -
Ecofys is a leading knowledge and innovation company that operates in the field of renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change with the mission ‘A sustainable energy supply for everyone'. We deliver research and service solutions from product development to implementation management. Our clients are energy companies, financial institutions and corporate businesses, governments and local authorities, international institutions, project developers, housing associations, building companies and energy consumers around the world.

About Climate Analytics -
CLIMATE ANALYTICS GmbH is a non-profit organization based in Potsdam, Germany. CLIMATE ANALYTICS has been established to synthesize climate science that is relevant for international climate policy negotiations. It provides scientific, policy and analytical support for Small Island States (SIDS) and the least developed country group (LDCs) negotiators, as well as non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders in the ‘post-2012' negotiations. Furthermore, it aims to assist in building in-house capacity within SIDS and LDCs.

About Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) -
The PIK conducts research into global climate change and issues of sustainable development. Set up in 1992, the Institute is regarded as a pioneer in interdisciplinary research and as one of the world's leading establishments in this field. Scientists, economists and social scientists work together, investigating how the earth is changing as a system, studying the ecological, economic and social consequences of climate change, and assessing which strategies are appropriate for sustainable development.