World's Nations Set Emissions Reduction Targets: Who's Pledging What?

As you're likely aware, the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen ended with a whimper--in lieu of any binding agreement, nations signed onto the Copenhagen Accord. Which basically meant signing a statement of intent--and nations were to pledge voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and submit them by the end of January. Well, it's February now. Let's take a look at the nations around the world who've pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and what their targets are.

So far, 57 countries, including the 23-nation European Union have "associated" with the Accord, or list themselves as likely to do so. This means they've set a voluntary target for reducing emissions, and agreed to be monitored by an independent body.

For the most up-to-date standings--and where the stats for this post were taken--check out this comprehensive chart from the US Climate Action Network. It has tallied all the participating nations thus far, along with details on their pledges. Also, Dave Roberts has a great piece synthesizing just about all the available info from the COP15 fallout, er, aftermath, and explaining where we go from here.

He also took the trouble of tallying up the biggest players' carbon pledges: (via Grist)

Nations Carbon Emissions Reduction Checklist

  • India has pledged carbon intensity cuts of 20-25 percent by 2020.
  • Brazil has pledge absolute emissions cuts of emissions by 39 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, mainly through measures to slow deforestation.
  • South Africa reportedly plans to submit a target of 34 percent below projected levels by 2020, though there's some concern whether it can back that ambitious target with action.
  • Japan reiterated its plan to achieve absolute emissions cuts of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, provided other major emitters pledge ambitious plans as well.
  • Indonesia may be late, it's said to be contemplating a cut of 26 percent below projected levels by 2020.
  • Canada will submit the same lame target as the U.S.: 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. [Although, as Matt points out today, this actually allows Canada to emit more carbon than before]
  • Australia has pledged absolute emissions cuts of at least 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, up to 25 percent contingent on the actions of other countries.
  • China said it "will endeavour to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP ["carbon intensity"] by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 compared to the 2005 level." That would, of course, allow China's emissions to continue rising in absolute terms; it has said it foresees emissions peaking in 2030.

The EU has pledged to reduce emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The island nations the Maldives will reduce emissions by 100% by 2020, making them the first carbon neutral nation.

And of course, the US brings up the rear of the industrialized world by offering a paltry 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

So that's where all the cards lay at the moment--scattered, too weak to prevent a great temperature rise (with the given reductions, temperatures would rise 3.5 C this century, which is considered to be disastrous), and discouraging enough to prompt critics to claim there will be no global climate treaty this year, either. The only nation that could feasibly inspire real, necessary change at the moment is the US--and we all know how eager the Senate is to help the US lead on climate issues. So for the time being, it looks like the so-called 'global climate accord' is a piecemeal agreement of stitched-together promises and voluntary pledges.

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