• December 5, 2011

Durban, South Africa – At a press conference today at the UN climate talks in Durban, civil society executives representing some of the biggest unions, environmental organizations and development groups in the world issued a strong warning call as negotiations enter the second week.

NGO’s targeted in particular the U.S. in its move to forestall any additional climate mitigation targets (beyond the voluntary commitments made under the Cancun Agreement,) before 2020. Analysis provided by Climate Interactive (PDF) disproves the statement by lead U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing that a 2 degree global warming limit is still tenable given previous pledges. Waiting until 2020 for more serious climate mitigation targets would require a reduction in CO2 emissions of 4% per year or more, a feat deemed impossible by the 2010 United Nations Emissions Gap report (PDF) which shows that an anual reduction rate of 3.5% is the extreme upper limit.

Photos of the press conference will be available at

Watch the UNFCCC video at

Below are key quotes for use by reporters:

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, said: “On Saturday, in Durban, the US eviscerated draft language on mitigation that would have offered real protection to those who are being hardest and fastest hit by climate changes that are already happening. The time has come for the US to stand aside. If it is not willing to save lives, save jobs and save whole ecosystems then it should get out of the way and let those who are willing move on. Any failure to move beyond US obstructionism will be measured in lives.”

Celine Charveriat, Director of Advocacy & Campaigns at Oxfam International, said: “The US is pitching an alarming narrative to lock in a ten-year timeout with no new targets to lower emissions until 2020. This perilous course of action must be stopped dead in its tracks. The world’s poorest people, who are already suffering the impacts of a changing climate, simply cannot wait another decade for action to bring emissions in line with what science so clearly requires. If the US insists on pushing this dangerous pathway, they must stand aside and allow other countries to move forward without them.”

Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International, said: “We’re not done here. But what this process is not delivering is ambition on emissions reductions. And that is not the fault of the process. It is the fault of governments like the United States. In fact, there is not a single scenario on the table right now that allows us to avoid runaway climate change. With no ambition on emission reductions and an apparent timeline aimed at 2020 for implementation, we could end up legally bound to a 4 degree world. And that’s just unacceptable. So while politicians continue to bicker around the edges of the negotiations, we will be looking for leaders arriving this week to engage on the real issues here. Civil society members are here to address the urgent threat of climate change and ensure a future world where there is enough food, water and energy for all. It might be good to ask governments why they’re here.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, said: “To fail to act, risks the opportunity to build the green economy with secure jobs. The economic and social risk of climate change, multiplied by the instability of corporate globalisation and the resulting global financial crisis is a time bomb for all workers. Union members and their families will mobilise to build political power that will hold all politicians to account. The US has got to stop blocking. They are either part of the global community, or they should stand aside.”

For more information please contact:

David Turnbull, CAN International, E: [email protected], M: +27 (0) 78 889 6827 (local mob)

Christian Teriete, TckTckTck campaign, E: [email protected], M: +27 (0) 793566198


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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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