Developed countries' emission cuts pledges under Copenhagen AccordDeveloped countries' emission cuts pledges under Copenhagen Accord PDF Print
Written by Meena Raman   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:21

Geneva, 8 Feb (Meena Raman) -- Thirty-nine developed countries, referred to as Annex 1 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have submitted their national pledges for emissions reductions (in percentage by 2020 from a base year of 1990 or 2005), and have expressed their association with the Copenhagen Accord.

The Accord is a three-page document arising from a small meeting of 29 political leaders at Copenhagen, which was not adopted by the UNFCCC's Conference of Parties but only "taken-note of".

A deadline of 31 January was given in the Accord for Annex I parties to submit mid-term emission reduction pledges which would fill in the Accord's Appendix I. The UNFCCC Secretariat invited all member countries to indicate if they would "associate" with the Accord and also to submit information on mitigation goals.

Even before Copenhagen or at Copenhagen, most Annex I parties had announced national reduction targets. A comparison can thus be made of the pledges made under the Copenhagen Accord and the previously announced targets.

Only three of the 39 viz. Russia, Croatia and Belarus, have improved their level of ambition in their Accord pledges. Canada has lowered its ambition level, while the other developed countries have maintained the same ambition level in their pledges as compared to their targets announced during the course of the negotiations last year.

In addition, most of the pledges are conditional on there being comparable efforts by other developed countries as well as on developing countries making efforts such as by "contributing adequately" or that "major developing economies substantially restrain their emissions".

The Annex I countries that so far submitted their national pledges under the Accord are the European Union and its 27 member states, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, the United States, Belarus and Liechtenstein.

These submissions were made to the UNFCCC Secretariat following an invitation by the Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer to all member states requesting them to notify the Secretariat if they chose to associate with the Accord, giving a deadline of 31 January. He later explained to the media that this was a "soft deadline."

Except for Canada, Croatia, the Russian Federation and Belarus, the emission reduction targets for 2020 submitted by the developed countries are the same as that which was announced either formally or informally by each country during the course of the climate negotiations last year.

The Canadian government had previously proposed a target of 20% reduction by 2020 from the 2006 level. Canada has now submitted a target of 17% reduction from the 2005 level (a target which is similar to the US) and which is also "to be aligned with the final economy-wide emissions target of the United States in enacted legislation."

According to analysis done by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) during the Barcelona climate talks in November 2009, Canada's previously announced target of 20% reductions from the 2006 level was equivalent to a reduction of 3% relative to 1990 levels without taking into account changes in land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) (which can lead to emissions generation or reduction).

However, with the new submission by Canada, a paper issued last week by the World Resources Institute (WRI) suggests that from its Accord submission, Canada's emissions target will be 3% above the 1990 level and if LULUCF is included, it will be 19% above (not below) the 1990 level.

The pledges by Croatia, Russia and Belarus reveal improved targets. Prior to Copenhagen, Croatia indicated that its emissions in 2020 would be above 6% compared to 1990 levels. In its most recent submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat, Croatia states that its emission reduction target would be 5% below the 1990 level, which it says, is a "temporary target" and "upon the accession of Croatia to the European Union, the Croatian target shall be replaced by arrangement in line with and part of the European Union mitigation effort."

Russia, prior to Copenhagen, had indicated a 10-15% reduction from 1990 levels. In its recent submission, it has expressed an emissions reduction target in the range of 15-25% below 1990 levels. This target is however conditional, that takes "appropriate accounting of the potential of Russia's forestry contribution in meeting its obligations as well as the undertaking by all major emitters of their legally binding obligations to reduce emissions."

Belarus had previously indicated a target of 0-10% reductions from 1990 levels. In its recent submission, it has given a target of 5-10% reduction, "which is premised on the presence of and access of Belarus to the Kyoto flexible mechanisms, intensification of technology transfer, capacity building" and "taking into consideration the special conditions of the Parties undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, clarity in the use of new LULUCF rules and modalities."

The United States had last year informally announced a target of 17% reduction by 2020 from the 2005 level. The US, in its submission to the UNFCCC in January this year, has formally through its special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, indicated its target for emissions reductions by 2020 to be in the range of 17% "in conformity with anticipated US energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation".

In a footnote in its letter of 28 January, the US also stated that the pathway set forth in pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction in 2025 and a 42% reduction in 2030, in line with the goal to reduce emissions by 83% by 2050. The US referred to a base year of 2005 in relation to these targets.

The US listing of the targets is also conditional viz. "... on the assumption that other Annex 1 Parties as well as the more advanced non-Annex 1 Parties have by January 31, associated with the Accord and submitted mitigation actions for compilation".

According to the WRI analysis, the US target would mean an emission reduction of 3% compared to 1990 levels.

The rest of the developed countries made the same pledges as they did last year and almost all the pledges were conditional on there being comparable efforts by other developed countries as well as developing countries "contributing adequately" or that "major developing economies substantially restrain their emissions".

Australia has proposed a target in the range of reduction of 5%- 15%, or else 25%, based on the 2000 level, depending on conditions.

Based on the AOSIS analysis, this target would mean that based on 1990 levels, Australia would reduce its emissions in range of 2-22%.

Australia's pledge was conditional as it said that it would "reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% on 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal capable of stabilising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450 ppm CO2-eq or lower. Australia will unconditionally reduce our emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, and by up to 15% by 2020 if there is a global agreement which falls short of securing atmospheric stabilisation at 450 ppm CO2-eq and under which major developing economies commit to substantially restrain emissions and advanced economies take on commitments comparable to Australia's."

The EU position has not changed post-Copenhagen. In its submission, the EU maintained that it will reduce its emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels. It also said that "as part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, the EU reiterates its conditional offer to move to a 30% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and that developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities."

Japan has pledged to reduce its emissions by 25% compared to 1990 levels, "which is premised on the establishment of a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate and on agreement by those economies on ambitious targets."

New Zealand said that it "is prepared to take on a responsibility target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of between 10 per cent and 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, if there is a comprehensive global agreement.

"This means that the global agreement sets the world on a pathway to limit temperature rise to not more than 2 degrees Celsius; developed countries make comparable efforts to those of New Zealand; advanced and major emitting developing countries take action fully commensurate with their respective capabilities; there is an effective set of rules for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); and there is full recourse to a broad and efficient international carbon market."

Norway pledged a 30-40% reduction in emissions by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. It said that "as part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012 where major emitting Parties agree on emissions reductions in line with the 2 degrees Celsius target, Norway will move to a level of 40% reduction for 2020."

Kazakhstan pledged to reduce its emissions by 15% based on 1992 levels.

Liechtenstein pledged to reduce its emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. "If other developed countries agree to comparable reductions and emerging economies contribute according to their respective capabilities and responsibilities within a framework of a binding agreement, Liechtenstein is prepared to raise its target up to 30%", it said in its submission.

The WRI paper warns that the pledges made will "certainly fall very short of goals to reduce concentrations below that level (450 ppm)."

The 450 ppm concentration level is usually associated with a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius. The need for the temperature rise to stay below 2 degrees is also recognised by the Accord. Thus, the pledges made by the developed countries do not even meet the Accord's own standard.

(The SUNS will provide further details of the WRI paper in its next issue).


Published in SUNS #6859 dated 9 February 2010

TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb10/09)
9 February 2010
Third World Network

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