The Netherlands Assessment Agency, which has produced a series of excellent studies over the years on the contours of potential post-2012 climate regime architecture, has released a great new study this week calculating whether pledges of Annex I countries to date meets the “comparable reduction efforts,” mandate of the Bali Action Plan, Michel den Elzen, et al., Sharing Developed Countries’ Post 2012 Greenhouse Gas Reductions Based on Comparable Efforts (2009). This would be an excellent reading for students in that it both summarizes announced Annex I commitments to date and assesses their adequacy using a series of equitable criteria that could give rise to some spirited discussion of how we assess both responsibility and capabilities to respond.
Among the study’s key findings:
- The aggregated reduction from all Annex I countries ranges from 12 to 19%, relative to the 1990 levels, by 2020.1 This matches up poorly with the IPCC AR4 range of 25 to 40% below
1990 levels, to meet 450 ppm CO2 eq. The study, however, does not take into account credits or debits related to LULUCF, which could substantially change the equation for some States; (for an excellent assessment of what current State pledges would translate into in terms of temperature increases toward this century, see the Climate Action Tracker website);
- Based upon four criteria (ability to pay, reduction potential, responsibility (percentage change in emissions since 1990) and national circumstances, the study concludes that:
- The emissions reduction pledges made by Canada, Australia, Japan and the EU to date are in the range of what constitutes “comparable reductions” based on the above 4 criteria, though the contours of LULUCF rules can dramatically alter this equation;
- Norway’s pledge to reduce emissions 30-40% from 1990 levels by 2020 is the most ambitious target when measured against the criteria;
- Russia’s pledge of a 25% reduction by 2020 still puts its emissions above those prior to its economic crisis; thus, it’s pledge is deemed not to be significant;
- The United States’ plan (which at the time of the report was based on the American Clean Energy & Security Act and comparable bill in the Senate) is less ambitious than what the comparable reduction criteria would mandate, unless financing proposed in the bills for reducing deforestation in developing countries is take into account (an interesting element to factor in)
- Canada’s commitment is deemed to fall “far short” of what should be deemed comparable reductions.
- Abatement costs for Annex I countries in the comparable reduction effort scenario of reducing emissions by 30% by 2020 is about 0.25% of GDP.