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Cancun Agreement: A positive step but we’re not there yet

12 December 2010
Cancun Agreement: A positive step but we’re not there yet

While a positive step, the Cancun Agreement falls well short of what is needed to avert the worst effects of climate change, Green Party climate spokesperson Kennedy Graham said today.

At Cancun, nations have effectively agreed to formalise the Copenhagen pledges as part of the formal UN process, with the intention that these become legally binding in the future.

“What Cancun has done is restore confidence in the negotiation machinery that last year’s Copenhagen experience left in tatters,” said Dr Graham.

“But when the substance of current pledges is analysed, we must realise we’re in danger of cementing in national pledges that are insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change.

“These combined pledges add up to global emission cuts that fall way short of the agreed goal of containing global warming to within 2º Celsius.

“For this to occur, annual global emissions must fall from a projected 56 Gt. of carbon equivalent in 2020 to about 45 Gt. The combined Copenhagen pledges are estimated to result in a reduction to about 49.5 Gt.

“Clearly, the Copenhagen pledges, formalised under the Cancun Agreement, will result in a hotter planet than a 2º C rise. Some estimate a 4º C rise by late in the 21st century, triggering unpredictable non-linear change to the global biosphere.

“Given the high stakes involved, the precautionary principle requires that we do not play Russian roulette in this manner.

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“New Zealand remains part of the problem,” said Dr Graham.

“While I commend our ministers and ambassadors for the constructive role they played at Cancun, the Government’s pledge of 10% to 20% emission cuts is a national symbol of the lack of global resolve to truly deal with the climate threat.

“I call on the Government to make a new pledge in 2011 that will meet the UN prescription of 25% to 40% cuts by 2020. The Green Party will cooperate with the Government to get there.”

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