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TCG welcomes new pledges from China and US - now all countries must up their game

26 November 2009

In the last two days, the Presidents of the world's two largest economies have made public pledges to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, injecting further momentum in the run up to next month's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

China has committed to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy emissions per 10,000 units of GDP by 40-45% by 2020, while President Obama has provisionally pledged to cut US emissions in absolute terms by at least 17% below 2005 levels over the same time period.

With similar announcements by Japan, Australia, Russia, Korea, Brazil and Indonesia amongst others, this now means that almost all major economies now have something concrete on the table as they enter the final stage of negotiations.

The Climate Group welcomes this latest news, seeing it as evidence of the growing political will and mutual trust that will be necessary to forge a successful outcome in Copenhagen.

"After their historic meeting last week, both President Hu and President Obama have now come forward with real targets that can serve as the basis for further negotiations in Copenhagen", said Mark Kenber, The Climate Group's Policy Director. "The key now is to use this as the basis for an ambitious binding global agreement that sends a clear signal to investors that the world is firmly on a low carbon path."

However, while undoubtedly a major step forward, the current package of pledges still leaves us short of where we need to be in 2020, some 5GtCO2 above an emissions level that gives us a reasonable chance of keeping the global temperature increase below 2 degrees, the goal agreed by the leaders of all the world's major economies earlier this year.

The task of the remaining days of negotiations therefore is to take the renewed momentum that has been generated by these announcements and use it to further raise the level of ambition for both 2020 and beyond. For example, these new commitments should make it possible for European leaders to follow Commissioner Dimas' recent call for for the EU to move to an unconditional 30% reduction target for 2020.

"Most countries have laid out what they will do on their own," Kenber continued, "now we look to see them work together to raise their collective level of ambition.

"As all countries work together so the cost of meeting targets comes down. This should make it possible for the US and other industrialized countries to cut their emissions further and faster and, by making firm commitments of financial and technological support, enable developing countries, like China, to go beyond the pledges they have already made.

"Beyond this we will also be looking for all countries to lay out how their emissions will evolve after 2020 as this will give the clear signal businesses and investors need to put serious money into new low carbon products and services."

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