Breaking: leaked climate talks text makes disturbing conclusions

Thu, 2009-12-17 09:17Kevin Grandia
Kevin Grandia's picture

Breaking: leaked climate talks text makes disturbing conclusions

Cross your fingers that this latest revelation is another Yes Men hoax. [update 1: I’ve confirmed that this was NOT a Yes Men hoax]

[update 2: Guardian is now reporting the story]

A draft copy of a confidential memo to the UNFCCC Secretariat has surfaced here at the Copenhagen climate talks that has some pretty disturbing analysis. The memo dated December 15, concludes that at this point in the climate talks:

“Unless the remaining gap of around 1.9 to 4.2 Gt is closed and Parties commit themselves to strong action prior and after 2020, global emissions will remain on an unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations equal or above 550ppm with the related temperature raise around 3 degrees Celsius.”  [my emphasis]

Here’s a screenshot, you can download the 4MB PDF version here: leaked UNFCCC secretariat document.

In layman terms this means that if the developed nations, like the US, Canada, Germany and France don’t commit to deeper emissions cuts at the talks underway in Copenhagen we’re screwed.

Based on the best scientific research, experts in the field have concluded that in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we need to stabilize carbon emissions at or below 350 parts per million.

leaked-secritariat-doc-degrees-1.pdf4.26 MB


This is actually some good investigative journalism! My hats off to desmog on this. How did you get this piece of info, just out of curiosity?

I disagree with your premise of 350 PPM as I have always favored the 1100 PPM target myself. Nonetheless you should get a raise as this is better investigative journalism than you will find at any newspaper or TV station today.

But it actually just came through one of the many listservs we’re on.

Make sure you don’t tell you boss that. ctually something of interest giving an insight into the negotiations. We have had scant little about that in any news media. Good piece.

Assume this is the case, exactly what do you here at Desmog want done? Be specific.

I disagree with the premise that Canada is so important in this. We’re only about 33 million people and emissions come down to population.

The US is 10 times more emission than us by virtue of population. China and India are lower emission per person but their huge population makes them major emmitters.

We are small potatoes in the emission game.

We’re the largest oil exporter to the United States. Canada matters big time in these negotiations.

That would be more convincing if Canada’s tar sand work was boosting our per capita rate well above the US or Australia, but it’s not. It’s still under.

And unless I’m missing something here, The US and other more climate concerned nations can cut back on Canadian oil any time they like. (of course in reality the US is the only nation importing Canadian oil so they really hold all the options)

… my litter doesn’t count. It’s everyone else in the world who’s messing the place up. Very instructive. Very socially responsible.

This ‘leaked’ document of uncertain origin and credibility shows a fundamental misinterpretation of the relationship between annual emissions of greenhouse gases and their potential impacts on global average temperature. Although the document appears to draw on analyses carried out by the Grantham Research Institute, it reaches false conclusions about the science of emissions reductions.

It is clear that current intentions on emissions reductions for 2020 are still short by a few billion tonnes of a target for global emissions of 44 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. However this does not mean we would be on a path to a temperature rise of 3°C. In fact, current ambitions would still be consistent with a global emissions pathway offering a 50 per cent chance of avoiding a temperature rise of more than 2°C, but would require steeper reductions after 2020, which are likely to be more costly, to well below 35 billion tonnes in 2030 and well below 20 billion tonnes in 2050.

These pathways would result in a probability of no more than about 10 per cent of exceeding a temperature rise of 3°C and would mean that atmospheric concentrations would peak at about 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent before declining eventually to below 450 parts per million. More detailed analyses of the science than is contained in this ‘leaked’ document can be found in reports published on the website of the Grantham Research Institute (
Fortunately most delegates appear to have access to more robust analysis than is contained in this ‘leaked’ document.

two articles (something about the”final draft” and this one) have claims about leaked messages. i think they were stolen. how can you support the theft of personal property? ok, so that was a jab at you not having a problem with info being “leaked”. hopefully my point was understood about the double standard. but on a serious note, are you foolish enough to think that this text was not intended to get out? do you really think this was something that the secretariat didn’t want anyone to see? or was this just a ploy that you help spread? when are we going to get past the point that we need to “save the planet” and agree that this is about anti-capitalism. let’s see: chavez , the coke chewing dictator, brought down the house with his anti-capitalist bs. third world countries demand reparations. and we, the US, decide to give 100 BILIION that we dont have. what a sham.


AN Australian Federal MP is planning to join some of the world’s noisiest deniers of the science of climate change at a conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks time.

George Christensen, the National Party member for Dawson in the coal-friendly state of Queensland, will be hanging around the Mandelay Bay Resort with a rag-tag bunch of mostly long-retired academics and well paid think-tank associates for the Heartland Institute ...

read more