Press releases

Greater than 50 percent chance of global warming exceeding 3°C by 2100

Published: 02/06/2010

Research results to be launched today at the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Ecofys and Climate Analytics will show that current pledges by countries around the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficient to keep global temperature rises below the 2°C agreed in the Copenhagen Accord.

The work, which is linked to the ‘Climate Action Tracker’, points out that even if Nations go further than they did in Copenhagen and agree to halve emissions by 2050, there would still be about a 50% chance that warming exceeds 2°C and it would almost certainly exceed 1.5°C, which is the target set by the Small Island States and Least Developed countries. This is a stark finding given that it is probable that nations will only meet the lower ends of their emissions pledges.

“There is a multibillion tonne gap between where emissions will be in 2020 and where they need to be have a chance to limit warming to 2°C or below” said Joeri Rogelj of PIK. The gap is 4-8 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions (GtCO2-eq) in 2020 above the level of 40-44 GtCO2-eq to which emissions would need to be reduced to have a good chance at limiting warming to 2oC or below.

The research shows that there are a number of loopholes in current pledges of developed countries. For instance, under current rules, nations can bank an estimated 12 GtCO2-eq in surplus allowances to use after 2012. In addition credits for land-use activities currently on the table lead to further allowances of up to 1 GtCO2 per year by 2020.

Speaking at the side event taking place in Bonn, Niklas Höhne of Ecofys will say: “Proposals by developing countries can be substantial. In total, they could get about halfway towards the 15% to 30% range below business as usual in 2020 as suggested by the IPCC. All major developing countries have quantitative targets. China’s and India’s domestic actions are probably more ambitious than their targets submitted to the Copenhagen Accord. Brazil and Indonesia have ambitious plans to reduce emissions from deforestation. Mexico, South Korea and South Africa want to stop emissions growth by 2020.”

Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics will set out at the event that a number of options exist for closing the gap in 2020 which could be adopted in Cancun.

  1. Developed countries significantly increasing their ambition levels
  2. Developing countries increasing ambition levels and securing funding for mitigation programmes
  3. Reducing or eliminating the banking of surplus allowances
  4. A strict limit to the use of emissions credits and adopting forestry accounting rules that minimize weakening of reduction targets for industrial and agricultural sources.
  5. Halting deforestation by 2020
  6. Reducing international aviation and marine (shipping) CO2 emissions which are currently uncontrolled and expected to grow fast.

Note to the editors

The UNFCCC side event “Analyzing Copenhagen: 3.5°C, 2°C or 1.5°C?”, takes place between 1800-1930hrs on Wednesday, 2 June in the Tram Room of the Ministry of Transport building. Please contact Kirsten Macey if you would like to attend:


Tel. +49 151 2221251


Ecofys, Climate Analytics and PIK are research organizations that specialize in energy and climate-related issues.

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.

For further information, not for publication:
Ecofys Germany GmbH
Dr. Niklas Höhne
+49 162 1013420

Climate Analytics
Michiel Schaeffer
+1 718 3090120
+49 175 665 6038

PIK Press Office
Uta Pohlmann and Patrick Eickemeier
+49 331 288 25 07

About the speakers
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 ( 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.

Joeri Rogelj is a co-developer of the PRIMAP model at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Currently he is at the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (IACETH) in Zürich.

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
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. One of its main areas of work is providing 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 climate negotiations.

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