Back to All News

Top scientist delivers Copenhagen wake-up call: 60% cuts in energy emissions needed by 2020

Top climate scientist, Professor Kevin Anderson from the UK's Tyndall Centre, has delivered a wake-up call to all those attending the Copenhagen climate conference, including Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

Professor Anderson, writing in The Independent, called existing offers of emissions cuts "token gestures" and said that, to give the planet "a 50:50 chance of not exceeding 2C":

"wealthy (OECD) nations need to peak emissions by around 2012, achieve at least a 60 per cent reduction in emissions from energy by 2020, and fully decarbonise their energy systems by 2030 at the latest... This scale of reductions is presently far removed from that which the negotiators in Copenhagen are intending to consider."

"World leaders from Kevin Rudd to Barack Obama are getting very good at using science to back up their crisis rhetoric while completely ignoring it in their actions," Senator Milne said.

"If Copenhagen is to be a success and deliver even the beginnings of a safe climate plan, we need leaders to match their crisis rhetoric with crisis action.

"Professor Anderson should be congratulated for telling it like it is at this critical moment. I hope that his intervention causes negotiators to sit up and think about the full implications of what they are doing.

"In Australia, James Risbey last week took a similarly brave step, writing in New Matilda:

'On the one hand the Government calls for rapid action to prevent climate changes, while on the other hand it has crafted a policy that would guarantee that effective action is not taken. The Australian public is left largely unaware that the nation is opting to try to adapt to large climate change rather than prevent it occurring.'

Senator Milne said "As this enormous conference opens, we need more scientists to be raising the stakes like these two or we have no chance of success."

Professor Anderson's Independent op ed is at

Dr Risbey's New Matilda piece is at

Senator Milne is available for interviews from Copenhagen between 6pm and 8am

Back to All News