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Copenhagen's greenhouse gas goals unmet

Christiana Figueres, left, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinoza and Mexican President Felipe Calderon attend the opening ceremony of the conference at the Moon Palace Hotel in Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on November 29, 2010. Representatives from nearly 200 countries are to meet in the Mexican resort city from November 29 to December 10.
Christiana Figueres, left, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinoza and Mexican President Felipe Calderon attend the opening ceremony of the conference at the Moon Palace Hotel in Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on November 29, 2010. Representatives from nearly 200 countries are to meet in the Mexican resort city from November 29 to December 10. (Ronaldo Schemidt/afp/getty Images)

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Monday, November 29, 2010; 5:53 PM

Greenhouse gas emissions gap

The pledges that countries made last year in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall well short of what is needed to keep global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2100, according to a new U.N. report.

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"The report underlines both the feasibility of emission reductions and the importance of international cooperation to raise the current inadequate level of ambition," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement. The U.N. climate change meeting began Monday in Cancun, Mexico.

Governments meeting in Cancun this week "will need to both anchor the pledges they made in Copenhagen in the U.N. context and to work swiftly to agree on ways to reduce emissions so that the world has a chance of staying below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise," she said.

Scientists estimate that to have a "likely" chance of meeting that goal, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will need to have peaked within the next decade.

Janet Ranganathan, vice president of science and research at the World Resources Institute, which collaborated on the U.N. Environment Program's report, said policymakers will make choices in the near future "that will have huge implications" for the future trajectory of emissions and rises in global temperatures.

- Juliet Eilperin


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