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UN Analysis: Climate Ambition Increasing, But More Is Needed

WASHINGTON, DC (October 30, 2015) In reaction to the UNFCCC Secretariat’s synthesis report released today, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists and Oxfam America joined efforts to highlight unprecedented and growing momentum towards the Paris climate change negotiations and to urge a scaling up of ambition to address the gap that remains.

“The past twelve months have seen unprecedented climate commitments from governments, business and cities,” said Lou Leonard, vice president, climate change at WWF. “Nearly 160 national targets have been submitted by governments and political support for action is growing, not only in the United States and Europe, but within developing countries of all sizes from China, Mexico and India to Tanzania and the Marshall Islands. But yet, much more is needed.”

The UNFCCC report shows that the targets on the table only get us about half way toward the pathway needed to limit warming to less than 2°C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. So while they welcome the progress made, the groups warn that the current level of collective ambition is well below what is needed.

”This ambition gap won’t be closed in Paris,” said Jake Schmidt, director of international program at NRDC. ”But we cannot ignore it or simply kick the problem down the road for 10 or 15 years. Paris can and should set us on a course to immediately begin to tackle this challenge.”

They pushed for a 3-part plan to address the gap in mitigation ambition, including: (1) 5-year review and revision cycles in the Paris agreement designed to spur progressively more fair and ambitious commitments by all countries, (2) scaled up cooperative action led by quantified targets by the United States and other developed countries to provide the support needed to help developing countries such as Mexico, India, and Indonesia to implement the additional actions outlined in their INDCs that are conditioned on external finance and technology support; and (3) a permanent action agenda where high-level champions bring together governments, businesses and others to accelerate emissions cuts, supported by technical experts and incentives to unlock current barriers to action.

“Growing public concern about the mounting impacts and costs of climate change, the rapidly declining costs of wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies, and the wave of actions being taken by businesses, cities, states and provinces all give me hope that we still have a shot at closing the ambition gap the report so clearly documents,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “What’s needed now is bold and courageous action by leaders, ministers, and negotiators to produce an agreement in Paris that’s up to the challenge.”

The groups also noted that even if the Paris agreement addresses the ambition gap and limits warming to below 2 degrees C, the impacts of climate change will continue to increase in the decades ahead. So in Paris, the groups warned, governments must also address the need for increased support for adaptation actions, especially by the most vulnerable countries.

“These projections also show why it's critical to achieve scaled-up support for adaptation finance in Paris, linked to the strength of the mitigation commitments on the table,” said Heather Coleman, Climate Change program manager at Oxfam America. “The world's poorest people who are on the frontlines of climate change should not pay the biggest price.”

The groups underscored that there is still time for world leaders deliver this plan to keep a safer future within reach. They called on the United States and other governments to use the weeks that remain to bring together this kind of agreement and realize the promise of Paris to become a turning point in the fight against climate change.


About World Wildlife Fund
WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFnews.

About National Resources Defense Council
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

About Oxfam-America
Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice. We save lives, develop long-term solutions to poverty, and campaign for social change. As one of 17 members of the international Oxfam confederation, we work with people in more than 90 countries to create lasting solutions. To join our efforts or learn more, go to

About Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future. For more information, go to