Climate Change: A Global Imperative to Return to 300 ppm | April 9th, 2010

Climate Change: A Global Imperative to Return to 300 ppm

Joan Russow PhD Global Compliance Research Project | Cory Morningstar Canadians for Action on Climate Change

Before COP15, during COP15 and POST COP15, there has been a global campaign. At COP15, states such as Bolivia, and the ALBA group, and some scientists and activists were calling for parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide to return to 300 ppm. When people from the campaign were asked why they did not respond to the lower demands, their response was ‘ is our campaign’.

However, more and more leading climate activists and leading world scientists are advocating the necessity of returning to 300 ppm.


Given that there were already serious consequences related to climate change in 1992, when at a level already exceeding 350 ppm, humanity was told it must aim for 300 ppm as the uppermost limit. Even in 1988, the global community recognized the seriousness of climate change. At the ‘Changing Atmosphere’ conference in 1988, in Toronto, scientists, politicians and non-government organizations (NGOs) acknowledged the following:

“The stabilizing of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is an imperative goal. It is currently estimated to require reductions of more than 50 per cent from present [1988] emission levels. Energy research and development budgets must be massively directed to energy options which would eliminate or greatly reduce CO2 emissions and to studies undertaken to further refine the target reductions.” [In 1988 the average Co2 concentration was 351.45!]

They warned that:

“Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequence could be second only to a global nuclear war and that it is imperative to act now.”

Governments, coerced into inaction by industry, industry-front groups, industry-funded academics and industry-controlled states, have failed to address the urgency of the crisis through their reluctance to enact effective legislation. Before this, the unheeded warnings of scientists go back to at least 1956.

Climate activists say the safe atmospheric CO2 concentration target is 300 ppm (see: was formed to educate the public about the urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 from the present damaging level of approx. 390 ppm to a stable level of 300 ppm. From the site: “ exists to inform people about the Climate Emergency and the need to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ) concentration to a safe and sustainable level of about 300 ppm. is informed by the advice of top world climate scientists as set out below.”

Below statement from leading world scientists, leading climate activists and respected climate action organizations. The scientific evidence at this time concludes that there is an urgent need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to 300 ppm for a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species.

1.David Spratt (co-author with Phillip Sutton of “Climate Code Red. The case for emergency action” (see:, 2009)

“In short, if you don’t have a target that aims to cool the planet sufficiently to get the sea-ice back, the climate system may spiral out of control, past many “tipping points” to the final “point of no return … And that target is not 350ppm, it’s around 300 ppm. [NASA’s] Hansen says Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point decades ago, and in his presentations has also specifically identified 300-325ppm as the target range for sea-ice restoration … Target 300 puts the science first. Interestingly in Australia, where I am based, 350 has not gained wide appeal, with most of the grass-roots climate action groups adopting a 300 ppm target, consistent with the propositions elaborated in “Climate Code Red”” (see “350 is the wrong target. Put the science first”:

2.Climate Positive (2009):

“Why humanity must aim for 300 ppm to restore a safe climate – this report is a summary of the latest climate science and solutions and argues convincingly that humanity must reduce atmospheric carbon [CO2] levels to 300 ppm or below to restore a safe climate … As a society we are preparing for a medium-sized climate problem, despite evidence that points to the problem being greater than we had anticipated. Instead of relying of an illusion of certainty, we need to manage the risks of climate change responsibly. This means reducing atmospheric concentrations to within the range that we know the climate will maintain stability – 300 ppmv CO2 equivalent. This would rule out a domino effect of sea-ice loss, albedo flip, a warmer Arctic, a disintegrating Greenland ice sheet, more melting permafrost, and knock-on effects of massively increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising atmospheric concentrations and accelerated global warming. Any proposal for a target higher than 300ppmv would imply confidence that it is safe to leave the Arctic sea ice melted. If we currently have such confidence, it is misplaced. 300ppmv is below current atmospheric concentrations, but we can achieve it if we act now, because of the delay in how the climate system responds – if we can lower the atmospheric concentrations this century the system may never reach the full level of warming we are due to receive” (see: “Climate Safety report – 300 ppm”:

3.Westernport Green Alliance (Victoria, Australia, 2009):

“In short, if you don’t have a target that aims to cool the planet sufficiently to get the sea-ice back, the climate system may spiral out of control, past many “tipping points” to the final “point of no return”. And that target is not 350ppm, it’s around 300 ppm. Hansen says Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point decades ago” (see: “350 is the wrong target: put the science first”: )

4. Jenny Curtis, mother and member of Climate Change Balmain Rozelle (Sydney, Australia):

“Australia must be part of a global climate change action plan that will reduce carbon concentration in the atmosphere to 300 parts per million (ppm) and keep it there” (see Greenlivingpedia, “Australian climate Action Summit 2009”:

5. Australia’s 2009 Climate Action Summit (a meeting of over 140 Australian Climate Action Groups, Canberra, January 2009) concluded:

“ The united Community Climate Action Groups will campaign for outcomes on these objectives: (1) Prevent the CPRS [the highly
flawed Rudd Labor Government Emissions Trading Scheme or ETS] from becoming law as it will fail to make emission cuts necessary to stop the climate emergency; (2) Build community-wide action to demand green jobs, a just transition for industry workers and 100% renewable energy by 2020; (3) Aim for stabilisation at 300ppm CO2 in the atmosphere and strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands” (see Greenlivingpedia, “Australian climate Action Summit 2009”:

6. The initially Victoria-based Australian Climate Emergency Network CEN) endorses the position of the 2009 Australia’s 2009 Climate Action Summit (a meeting of over 140 Australian Climate Action Groups, Canberra, January 2009):

“To build community support for a goal of stabilisation at 300ppm CO2 and strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands. To communicate this position to Copenhagen Conference of Parties, and advocate for the Australian government to adopt that position” (see Climate Emergency Network, 2009:

7. The Melbourne-based Yarra Valley Climate Action Group (YVCAG; one of the larger climate action groups in Australia, stretching from Taggerty in the northern mountains to the suburban heartland of Melbourne) (2009):

“Climate Emergency Actions URGENTLY Required. 1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying. 2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists. 3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth” (see “Climate emergency facts and required action”, 2009:

8.Target 300 (Australia):

“300 ppm CO2 adopted by Victorian and then National grass roots groups … why Hansen’s recent work shows our climate target must be 300 ppm CO2 or below … 300 ppm CO2 or below. A goal to reestablish a stable climate” (see: Target 300, 2009:

Reference: Climate activists say the safe atmospheric CO2 concentration target is 300 ppm—return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm | Dr Gideon Polya

productivity, and the global environment.” [17]

(d) 2008, in an address to the US National Press Club and a briefing to the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming Congressional Committee:

“CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” [18]

9. Dr Andrew Glikson (an Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University, Canberra, Australia) (2009):

“For some time now, climate scientists warned that melting of subpolar permafrost and warming of the Arctic Sea (up to 4 degrees C during 2005–2008 relative to the 1951–1980) are likely to result in the dissociation of methane hydrates and the release of this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (methane: 62 times the infrared warming effect of CO2 over 20 years and 21 times over 100 years) … The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as 500–2500 Gigaton Carbon (GtC), as compared with the world’s total fossil fuel reserves estimated as 5000 GtC. Compare with the 700 GtC of the atmosphere, which regulate CO2 levels in the range of 180–300 parts per million and land temperatures in a range of about – 50 to + 50 degrees C, which allowed the evolution of warm blooded mammals. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added some 305 GtC to the atmosphere together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years (Ma) ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres. There is little evidence for an extinction at 3 Ma. However, by crossing above a CO2 level of 400 ppm the atmosphere is moving into uncharted territory. At this stage, enhanced methane leaks threaten climate events, such as the massive methane release and fauna extinction of 55 million years ago, which was marked by rise of CO2 to near-1000 ppm.” [20]

10. Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research., Germany (2008):

“It is a compromise between ambition and feasibility. A rise of 2oC could avoid some of the big environmental disasters, but it is still only a compromise…It is a very sweeping argument, but nobody can say for sure that 330ppm is safe. Perhaps it will not matter whether we have 270ppm or 320ppm, but operating well outside the [historic] realm of carbon dioxide concentrations is risky as long as we have not fully understood the relevant feedback mechanisms” [280 ppm is the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 concentration]. [22]

11. Professor Barry Brook (Sir Hubert Wilkins chair of climate change and director of climate science at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute):

“If the planet is like an oven, it’s still possible to turn down the temperature.The number is 300 and the methods will be extraordinary. In 2007, a climate awareness campaign was launched by well-known environmental author Bill McKibben. It was coined, with the slogan “350 is the most important number on the planet”. The figure refers to a target concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere, in parts per million (ppm). This number was drawn from a recent study by a team of climate scientists, led by NASA’s Dr James Hansen … But there is another, more surprising, problem with 350. It’s the wrong number. While 350 ppm should give us a reasonable shot at avoiding more than two degrees of warming, that’s hardly a safe future to be aiming for. We need only to look at the impacts at less than one degree to know we’re already committed to some tough adaptation problems …A target of 300 to 325 ppm CO2 – the levels of the 1950s – is necessary if we wish to cut additional warming and start to roll back the already damaging impacts. As such, 350 is not a target, it’s a signpost to a goal. So we’re aiming at 350 but the real goal is 300 and we’re already at 385”. [24, 25]

12. Australia’s premier research organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), “The Science of Climate Change” (see: ), 2008:

“Since the Industrial Revolution, the CO2 concentrations have risen 37%, methane 150% and nitrous oxide 18%. The global increases in CO2 concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while the increases in methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. The CO2 concentration in 2008 of 383 parts per million (ppm) is much higher than the natural range of 172 to 300 ppm that existed over the last 800,000 years.” [26]

13. Dr Graeme Pearman (former CSIRO Climate director; GP Consulting; interim director, MSI; Monash University Sustainaibility Group, Melbourne):

“The Earth is deglaciating. Since 1979, more than 20% of the Polar Ice Cap has melted away … Over the last century: global temperatures risen by 0.74 +/- 0.18oC; 11 of last 12 years rank as amongst the 12 warmest years; snow cover decreased in most regions, especially in spring and summer; summer period extended 12.3 days … Arctic sea-ice decline of 2.7 +/- 0.6 per cent per decade; sea ;levels have risen at a rate of: 1961-2003 1.9 +/- 0.5 mm yr-1, 1900-2000 1.7 +/- 0.5 mm yr-1; ocean acidification 0.1 pH unit so far … Gases: current carbon dioxide and methane concentrations far exceed those of the last 600,000 years; increases primarily die to fossil fuel use, agriculture and land-use changes; Warming: unequivocal, evident in air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice and rising sea levels; warming an effect of human activities – at least 5 times greater than that due to solar output change … extreme temperatures – more frequent, intense, longer-lived heat waves … Recent science strongly reinforces the views that: global warming is occurring; it is primarily a result of human activities.” [27]

14. Dr Gideon Polya (Convenor,, that argues for a return to ~300 ppm CO2), 24 October 2009:

“Dear Sir/Madam,

24 October UN Day & 350 Day – Science says reduce CO2 to ~ 300 ppm.

Top climate scientists and the prestigious UK Royal Society say we must DECREASE atmospheric CO2 concentration from the present 390 ppm to 300-350 ppm ASAP for a safe planet for all peoples and all species. [1a, 2a].

Unfortunately, world governments and the pro-coal Australian Liberal-National Party Coalition Opposition and the pro-coal Australian Labor Federal Government (aka the Lib-Labs) want to INCREASE CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. [3a].

Australia is a world leader in per capita GHG pollution – having 0.3% of world population, its domestic and exported GHG pollution is 3% of world total. Yet optimistic interpretation of official Labor policy indicates that Australia’s domestic and exported GHG pollution will be 119% of the 2000 value by 2020 and 173% by 2050. [4a].

The science-ignoring Australian Lib-Labs (US Rep-Dems) are betraying our children, the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere of the Planet. Children should demand that their elders behave responsibly before it is too late and First World-imposed climate genocide destroys 10 billion non-Europeans this century, mostly children.”[5a]

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