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A new report launched at the climate talks in Durban shows the world is on a path to warm 3.5ºC if action on climate change is delayed until 2015 or 2020.

Delaying action is exactly what the Harper government is doing. Federal Environment Minister Kent has suggested Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and instead stand by its voluntary pledge made following the Copenhagen meetings in 2009. That pledge is for Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 17 per cent below 2005 levels, which is in sharp contrast to Canada’s binding Kyoto commitment to cut emissions six per cent below 1990 levels.

Regardless of the target, Canada’s emissions continue to grow in large part due to oil and gas production growth. From 1990 to 2008, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions went up 36.7 per cent.

The newly published report from Climate Action Tracker (a joint project of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) looks at current emissions pathways. The study shows the world is not on track to keep global warming to 2ºC, which is the stated goal of both the Copenhagen and Cancun talks.

Current pledges have the world on a path to emit 55 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in 2020, well above the 44 gigatonne target that would put the planet on a course for 2ºC warming, which is what is generally considered to be a “safe” level of warming.

Bill Hare, the director of Climate Analytics, summarizes: “To put it bluntly, the longer we wait, the less options we will have, the more it will cost, the less likely we are to be able to stay below global warming of 2ºC and the bigger the threat to the world’s most vulnerable.”  

CUPE is monitoring the climate talks from Durban as part of our ongoing environmental work aimed at making our workplaces and communities greener.