Commitments made by developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, when added together, fall short of stabilizing global temperatures at a level that averts dangerous climate change.
Comparability of Annex I Emission Reduction Pledges, a new analysis by the World Resources Institute (WRI), examines the pledges made by the European Union, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Belarus, Ukraine and Canada as negotiations on a new global climate agreement near their climax in Copenhagen this December. Also included is the United States’s emission reductions based on the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by the House of Representatives in June.
WRI’s analysis reveals that commitments by these industrialized country parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would result in a 10 to 24 percent reduction of global emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.
This is less than the 25 to 40 percent range of emission reductions that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states would be necessary for stabilizing concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450ppm, a level associated with a 52 percent risk of overshooting a two degrees Celsius goal. Both the G8 and the Major Economies Forum - representing the world’s 17 leading economies - recently agreed to a goal of limiting average global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
“Our analysis provides a preliminary picture of where the world is headed in the run-up to Copenhagen,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WRI’s climate and energy program. “While emission reduction commitments by these countries could have an important and potentially substantial impact, they will not be enough to meet recommendations of IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. WRI therefore urges industrialized countries to bring forward more ambitious pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”
The report, which covers pledges by countries responsible for 98% of all developed country emissions, uses three metrics to compare country commitments - per capita reductions, emission intensity reductions, and absolute reductions. The 10 to 24 percent reduction is based on the inclusion or omission of factors, such as changes in land use, forestry data and low vs. high pledges. Other key findings include: