After the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 has set out binding objectives for greenhouse gas cuts. But, after the end of the first commitment period (2008-2012) of the Protocol, binding objectives only remained effective for a small part of overall emissions, as the larger emitters did not prolong their commitment (Canada, Japan, Russia, the United States, etc.).

Also, emergent/emerged economies, initially not included in the scheme, have become substantial -when not the largest (China) - emitters.

Now, the COP-21 Paris Conference, due in December 2015, is bound to provide a new start for binding reduction targets.

Prior to the Conference, countries are releasing “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) in which they describe, in an unbinding form, their intended undertakings for reaching the objective of the UNFCCC (i.e. to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system).

I recommend reading some of these few-pager INDCs, as it allows entertaining the differences in style and approach between, let’s say for example, the USA, the EU and Benin. That’s there:

More importantly, China’s INDC displays a target of lowering, by 2030, carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level.

Here are some of the emission reduction targets by country for 2030:

China: 60 to 65 % per unit of GDP from 2005 level*

Australia: 26 to 28 % from 2005 level**

Canada: 30 % from 2005 level

USA: 26 to 28 % from 2005 level (for 2025)

Japan: 26 % from 2013 level

UK: 40 % from 1990 level

Russia: 25 to 30 % from 1990 level

Switzerland: 50 % from 1990 level

EU: 40 % from 1990 level

- See this article for a critical analysis (French) of Australia’s intended target: -

Remi Nouailhac


* Whereas other countries’ intended targets cover all the greenhouse gases regulated under the UNFCCC, China’s figure refers to carbon dioxide only.

**2005 was the year of highest emission levels.

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