Fast Facts on International Targets: Sign of Hope, or Just Hot Air?

Lots of hot air
Lots of hot air
Reuters has compiled a helpful cheatsheet on country-by-country climate targets (see below). Reminding ourselves (and our leaders) of these targets now would be a good idea, considering that the attitude in Poznan has apparently turned pessimistic - see Ambitions for 2009 UN climate pact fade in Poznan (Reuters). (Oh, by the way, Venice just experienced its highest flood levels in 22 years.)

A note on the US: the US emitted 7.28 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2007, a 1.4% increase in emissions, according to a report released Tuesday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Methane emissions also grew by 13 million tonnes CO2e and now accounts fro 10% of total GHG emissions! The increase is primarily due to "unfavorable weather conditions, which increased demand for heating and cooling in buildings, and a drop in hydropower availability, which led to greater reliance on fossil energy sources" (Point Carbon). Sort of reiterates what we've said about large hydro as being an unreliable and short-lived solution given climate change (U.S. hydropower output dropped 14.2% last year due to droughts in the U.S. Southeast and California, according to the EIA). And by the way, despite our ever-increasing carbon footprint, the US is expected to clash with the EU in Poznan over mid-term targets (as in, the US doesn't want any).

FACTBOX - Greenhouse Gas Curbs, From US To China

Date: 26-Nov-08
Country: WORLD


THE KYOTO PROTOCOL - Binds industrialised nations except the United States to cut emissions on average by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

GROUP OF EIGHT - Leading industrial nations agreed at a G8 summit in Japan in July to a "vision" of cutting world emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050.

GLOBAL - About 190 nations agreed last year to work out a new treaty by the end of 2009 to succeed Kyoto, comprising deeper emissions cuts by rich nations and action by poor countries to slow their rising emissions.


UNITED STATES - President-elect Barack Obama favours cutting US emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent below 1990 by 2050. US emissions were 14 percent above 1990 levels in 2006. Obama says clean energy investments of up to $150 billion over 10 years could create 5 million new jobs.

This may be what Venice will look like next century.
This may be what Venice will look like next century.
EUROPEAN UNION - EU leaders agreed in 2007 to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 30 percent if other nations make similar cuts. A Dec. 11-12 EU summit will try to agree details. EU leaders want rich countries to aim to reduce emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.

CHINA - A 2006-10 plan aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent, curbing the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. Beijing also plans to quadruple gross domestic product between 2001 and 2020 while only doubling energy use. Beijing said this month it would spend an extra 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) to help boost demand, including investments in green sectors.

INDIA - New Delhi says priority must go to economic growth to end poverty while shifting to clean energies led by solar power. A climate plan in June set no greenhouse caps but said per capita emissions will never exceed those of rich nations.

JAPAN - Tokyo plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, implying a cut of about 14 percent by 2020 from 2005. That would put emissions about 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

CANADA - The government's "Turning the Corner" plan seeks to cut emissions by 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2020 and envisages cuts of 60 to 70 percent below 2006 by 2050. Applied to the usual Kyoto 1990 benchmark, a 20 percent cut from 2006 would put emissions 2.7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

SOUTH KOREA - The government plans next year to set a 2020 target to curb rising emissions.

AUSTRALIA - The centre-left government aims to cut emissions by 60 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. It plans to announce a 2020 target in coming days.

SOUTH AFRICA - The government aims to brake rising emissions and has outlined a scenario with emissions rising until 2020-25, staying flat for up to a decade and then falling. It will set mandatory energy efficiency targets and a shift away from coal.

NORWAY - Aims to cut emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and to make the nation "carbon neutral", meaning that any emissions in one sector would be offset elsewhere, by 2030.

COSTA RICA - Aims to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2021, the 200th anniversary of independence.

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(Compiled by Alister Doyle in Oslo, editing by Tim Pearce)