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On Reducing Emissions, UN Tells The World: Do Better

What's the Latest Development?

With just days to go before the start of a major climate change conference, the United Nations Environment Program (Unep) has released a report stating that the concentration of heat-trapping gases in Earth's atmosphere is up by 20 percent since 2000. Combined with a separate report from a different UN program declaring record-breaking levels of carbon dioxide in 2011, the organization claims that governments aren't doing nearly enough to slow global warming and meet the goals stated in past climate agreements. This year's talks will focus on extending the Kyoto Protocol (which expires this year) and creating a more thorough pact that will include developing nations.

What's the Big Idea?

In order to keep the global temperature rise to below 2°C, emissions must come down by 14 percent by 2020. However, each year that countries drag their feet on reduction plans, the percentage goes up and the likelihood of reaching the goal decreases. Unep executive director Achim Steiner believes there's still hope, and says that there are "inspiring actions" to be found among some nations. Climate activists like Kaisa Kosonen say governments need to step it up: "The only way we are going [to] achieve the necessary cuts in emissions is to move away from fossil fuels and towards a world of renewable energy."

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