The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


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.

From Monday delegates from 195 countries are gathering in Bonn, Germany 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 industrialized countries, compared to a business as usual scenario.

Tim Gore, Oxfam's climate change policy advisor said: "All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

"It's time for governments from Europe to the US to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists. Their competitors in developing countries - from China to India and Brazil - have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind."

New figures from the forthcoming SEI overview of the pledges show that:

  • China's total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020
  • The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.
  • The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil - the BASIC countries - could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries - the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

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

Gore said; "In the end, cutting emissions isn't about who does the most, but whether the total efforts are enough to avoid devastating levels 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.

Gore 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.

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.