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Poor countries pledging larger emissions cuts than rich ones

Developing Countries Pledge Bigger Climate Emissions Cuts Than World's Richest Nations

A new study for Oxfam reveals that developing countries are pledging to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by more than developed countries. Oxfam estimates that over 60 per cent of emissions cuts by 2020 are likely to be made by developing countries.

Delegates from 195 countries are gathering in Bonn, Germany this week to resume negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change. At last December’s climate conference in Cancun, countries recorded their pledges to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, 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 greenhouse gas emissions than industrialised countries, compared to a business-as-usual scenario.

Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand said, “One of the main stumbling blocks over the past four years of climate change negotiations has been that governments of rich countries, including New Zealand, have refused to make strong commitments to cut their emissions unless developing nations did the same. From Oxfam’s perspective, this isn’t fair, because it fails to recognise that poor countries didn’t cause climate change and shouldn’t have to shoulder an equal share of the burden for it. But more importantly, this study shows it’s a false argument – poor countries have already pledged to do more.

“New Zealand can no longer hide behind the argument that we’re doing our fair share to avoid dangerous climate change that would devastate the lives of vulnerable people in the poorest countries. It is clear we are not doing so. We know what it will take to keep global warming from exceeding 1.5°C.

“We call on the government to develop a plan to pull our weight and avoid massive damage and suffering to those who cannot defend themselves. New Zealand needs to prepare our plan for a low-carbon future as agreed in the UN negotiations,” said Coates.

Oxfam’s analysis shows that the total emissions cuts pledged by all countries are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures rising above the 2°C target agreed by governments in Cancun. Global temperature increases of more than 1.5°C will have catastrophic consequences for societies across the globe.

Coates said; “In the end, cutting emissions isn’t about who does the most, but whether the total efforts are enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming – we will either sink or swim together. The pledges currently on the table mean we are sinking.”

The new analysis of efforts on emissions cuts comes days after Oxfam published a report “Growing a Better Future” which forecasts that average prices of staple foods such as maize will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030. Up to half of this increase will be driven by climate change.

Coates said, “We need bolder action to cut emissions and stop climate change driving generations of children into hunger. All countries must step up and deliver their fair share of the emissions reductions needed. Countries must also ensure the most vulnerable get the support they need to adapt. Rocketing food prices signal climate change red alert.”

Oxfam is calling for action on climate change as part of a new global GROW campaign to ensure everyone always has enough to eat. For more information go to:


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