Governments sleep walking into 4 degrees warming

Published: 9th December 2011

As the climate talks in Durban enter the final day the emerging deal remains uncertain. But the catastrophic climate impacts the world faces if tough and ambitious decisions are not taken within the next 24 hours are crystal clear.

Kelly Dent, Oxfam Senior Advisor said; “The grains of sand in the hourglass are seeping away but levels of ambition cannot be allowed to follow suit. Governments must not seal the fate of the world’s poorest people with half-hearted attempts at action. Millions of lives are already being devastated by climate change, poor people on the front lines of this crisis need real, ambitious action to be delivered without delay.”

Governments must agree a specific plan to tackle climate change consistent with the target set by governments to limit global warming to 2C, and keeping within reach the 1.5C target needed. This should include:

1.  A deal for a second period of the Kyoto Protocol with as many countries signed on as possible as the bedrock of global efforts to fight climate change.

2.  Agreement on a roadmap to achieve much deeper and legally binding emission reduction targets in a wider agreement. This must ensure new deeper targets take effect within the timeline that science demands to avoid catastrophic climate change.

3.  Getting the Green Climate Fund up and running, putting women at its heart, and with at least one concrete new source of finance identified to fill it. The most promising option still on the table is a deal to raise funds for a levy on the unregulated emissions from international shipping.

Throughout the conference African civil society and people around the world have sent a strong and clear message: now is the time for governments step up and act to protect people who are vulnerable to the changing climate.

Without urgent action to slash greenhouse gas emissions crop yields could fall by more than 50 percent in some African countries within this generation or that of our children. Global food prices could more than double by 2030 up to half of which could be caused by climate change, driving millions more poor people into hunger.

Kelly Dent said “Negotiators must not be allowed to bury their heads in the sand and agree a deal at any costs. They must ensure deeper emissions reductions will be agreed and apply as soon as possible and that new cash is mobilised for the Green Climate Fund. Anything else could see us hurtling towards an unrecognisable future for millions of small scale farmers. The EU in particular can lead the way and forge agreements that can prevent four degrees or more of warming, and the catastrophic impacts that would bring.”

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Oxfam at UN Climate Change Summit 2011, Durban (South Africa)

Governments must not seal the fate of the world’s poorest people with half-hearted attempts at action.
Kelly Dent
Oxfam Senior Policy Adviser

Contact information

Ben Grossman-Cohen: +1202-629-6018 or +27 81 5820706 (South Africa),

Georgette Thomas: +44 (0)7824 503108 or +27 81 5820726 (South Africa),

Nthateng Mhlambiso: +27 79 752 4039 (South Africa),