Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 30, 2015

Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364,

U.N. Analysis: World Climate Pledges Too Weak to Prevent Dangerous Warming

WASHINGTON— Carbon-cutting pledges made by 145 countries ahead of December’s Paris climate talks are too weak to prevent dangerous global warming, according to a United Nations analysis released today.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change report found that even if every country actually fulfills its nonbinding promises to reduce greenhouse emissions, the world will still experience almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit  — 2.7 degrees Celsius — of warming by 2100. That level of warming is likely to inflict profound damage on the world’s food supplies and ecosystems and increase the risk of drought, deadly heat-waves and extreme weather.

“Math doesn’t lie, and these pledges just don’t add up to adequate action to protect us from climate catastrophe,” said Shaye Wolf, Ph.D., climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pretending these promises will avert disaster is like responding to a monster hurricane by opening an umbrella. To close the huge gap between what’s promised and what’s needed, America and other developed nations must take bolder steps to cut pollution.”

At the Paris climate summit, negotiators hope to produce an agreement that will help keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. But efforts to achieve a new international treaty have involved countries making nonbinding climate pledges, and many developed nations have submitted national plans for relatively modest pollution cuts.
The U.S. pledge, for example, is deeply inadequate. Using the international standard base year of 1990, the American target translates to reductions of just 14 to 16 percent by 2025. But scientists warn that by 2030, developed countries must reduce their economy-wide emissions by an average of 42 percent to 68 percent below 1990 levels, based on a range of assumptions about sharing the global climate effort in a way that’s fair.

The Obama admission could take a variety of actions to greatly increase America’s contribution to the climate fight, from ending new fossil-fuel leasing on public lands to cutting airplane greenhouse emissions — projected to more than triple by 2050 — as well as pollution from other unregulated sources like refineries and cement plants.

“At the Paris conference and long after, America must lead the climate fight by embracing clean energy and leaving dirty fossil fuels in the ground,” Wolf said. “U.S. negotiators should back efforts in Paris to end fossil fuel use in developed nations by 2050.”


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


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