U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Report: Copenhagen Accord Pledges Fall Short of Climate Goals
February 24, 2010
Pledges by 60 countries to cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next 10 years will not be sufficient to hold global temperature rises to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report notes that an emissions path with a medium likelihood of keeping temperature rises below the 2°C mark will require annual global GHG emission to be at or below the equivalent of 40-48.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide. In contrast, the pledges under the Copenhagen Accord are estimated to achieve the equivalent of 48.8-51.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2020. The report also notes that GHG emissions should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021, and over the following 30 years, global GHG emissions need to fall by 48%-72%, or about 3% per year. Climate scientists generally agree that global temperature increases should be held below 2°C to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, which means that countries must find a way to bridge the "gigaton gap." See the UNEP press release.