Paris Climate Conference: Major greenhouse gas emitters' climate pledges for COP21

Before the Paris climate conference has even started, the outline of a future agreement has already been established. In the months prior to the upcoming conference, the pledges of over 160 countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions have already been formally submitted - with emissions reductions targets for the next 10 or 15 years. This includes commitments from both developing and developed countries. Countries representing over 90 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions have put forward pledges - an astonishing feat - and a strong signal that the world is ready for a new type of international agreement where all countries are committed to climate action.

NRDC has prepared a series of Issue Briefs on the climate conference and the pledges by major emitters.

Here is a summary of the climate pledges, with links to each of the issue briefs:

  • The United States has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent relative to 2005 levels by 2025. This is an ambitious--but achievable--goal based on existing policies and regulatory authority. Even greater reductions could be reached through additional policy measures, putting the United States on track to an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.
  • China has committed to reducing its carbon intensity 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 level, peaking emissions around 2030, increasing non-fossil energy to 20 percent of the energy mix, and increasing forested land. These goals will help China tackle its air pollution challenges. Progress is already being made, as China has placed more restrictions on coal use, and it already has the largest wind and solar energy markets in the world. China's strong climate pledge puts the country's future growth on a low-carbon pathway.
  • India has announced its pledge to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 33 to 35 percent based on 2005 levels by 2030--building on its Copenhagen pledge of a 20 to 25 percent intensity reduction by 2020. India's climate pledge is a strong target and makes clean energy a centerpiece for economic growth.
  • Canada's climate pledge proposes to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. This target is inadequate, and there are few policies in place to show how Canada can reach this target. Canada has consistently failed to address environmental concerns related to the tar sands industry--which produces one of the most carbon-intensive fuel sources on earth and Canada's largest source of emissions growth--in its mitigation measures. To ensure Canada does its fair share to mitigate the threat of climate change and reduce the impacts of the tar sands industry, the newly elected Prime Minister and his Liberal government should set a more ambitious emissions target, backed by domestic policy implementation, and take concrete actions to scale back tar sands extraction
  • In its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), Mexico (Spanish version) proposed to unconditionally cut its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and black carbon by 25 percent compared to Business As Usual (BAU) levels by 2030. This target could increase up to 40 percent conditional on a global agreement and international support. Mexico's pledge follows an existing emission reduction target for 2020 and a long-term goal for 2050. As the first developing country to pass a general climate change law, Mexico has been making progress on climate change policies, but it should make more effort on transitioning away from an ongoing dependence on fossil fuels toward renewable energy resources.
  • The European Union has pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. This will include reductions through the EU's Emissions Trading System, which covers more than 11,000 power stations, industrial plants and other sources. Emissions will also be reduced as EU countries increase the share of energy that comes from renewable sources, and as energy efficiency measures are strengthened throughout the European Union.
  • Brazil's climate pledge makes it the first major developing country to put forward an absolute emissions reduction--a 37 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. Brazil has also put forward plans to limit illegal deforestation and for reforestation, as well as commitments to increase the share of non-hydropower renewables in its energy mix.
  • South Korea has formally proposed that it will cut its emissions 37 percent below the businessas-usual (BAU) level of 851 Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2eq)--by 2030. South Korea can build on existing domestic measures and strengthen its reduction efforts

For more information on the Paris climate conference and the climate pledges put forward by various countries, visit here.

About the Authors

Han Chen

International Climate Advocate, International and Climate & Clean Air programs

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