Bali Island (Indonesia): Countries need to set tougher targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions if the world is to avert a climate-change catastrophe, according to a new UN report released Tuesday.
A study compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that between 2020 and 2050, global emissions need to fall by between 48 and 72 percent.
The report said the political will to cut greenhouse gases by around 3 percent a year between 2030 and 2050 is needed for a "medium" likelihood - or at least a 50/50 chance - of keeping the global temperature increase at less than 2 degrees Celsius.
Under the non-binding Copenhagen Accord agreed at the UN climate change conference in December, countries pledged to cut and limit greenhouse gases by 2020.
"Yes, the Copenhagen Accord represents a significant step in the direction of managing emissions, but even in the best assumptions no one should assume for the moment that will be enough," UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said at a news conference.
The study was published ahead of a meeting of global environmental ministers from Wednesday through Friday in the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
It analysed the pledges of 60 developed and developing countries which were recently submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The study suggested that annual greenhouse gas emissions should not be larger than 40 to 48.3 gigatons of equivalent carbon dioxides in 2020, and should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021.
Steiner said Monday that the failure to reach a binding accord in Copenhagen has made efforts to reach such a deal more difficult.
"Copenhagen, in my mind, will be in history books as a moment where humanity has failed in its responsibility to act," he said.
But he said the whole world shared a responsibility to act in the next annual climate conference in Mexico in December.
"You can always find reasons not to act because of someone else not doing the right thing," he said. "And for Mexico, I think it will take leaders, and it is not only from the big ones (nations)."
First Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 18:30