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Nations submit their emission cut plans
London, Feb 1 (Agencies):
Published on 1 Feb. 2010 11:59 PM IST
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Governments from the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters have met a Copenhagen summit deadline to submit their plans for cutting emissions by the year 2020. The European Union has set an unconditional target to cut emissions by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels and is willing to raise that to 30 per cent if other countries make an equal effort. Australia will have a 5 per cent reduction target with no conditions applying and will only lift its target to 15 per cent or 25 per cent if countries like China, India and the United States agree to verifiable reductions. It has been just over a month since the climate talks ended without a legally-binding treaty. Instead they came up with what is known as the Copenhagen Accord, a deal negotiated by the United States and China and signed by more than 25 countries, including Australia. But even if all countries implement the target, it will still leave the world well short of the mark scientists estimate is needed to contain global warming. Deputy director with the Australian National University’s climate change institute, Doctor Frank Jotzo, says while a number of high polluters have pledged to cut emissions by 2020, China is the standout so far in terms of commitment. “The targets on the table for the main countries are the United States - a 17 per cent reduction by 2020 compared to 2005 levels; European Union - a 20 per cent reduction compared to 1990 levels, when emissions where actually higher than they are right now; China a reduction in the emissions intensity of GDP, that is tonnes of CO2 per unit of GDP of between 40 per cent and 45 per cent compared to 2005,” he said. “Indonesia - 26 per cent relative to business as usual at 2020; and Brazil at 36 to 39 per cent reduction relative to business as usual at 2020. “When you compare the targets on a like-for-like basis, you can see China’s emissions reduction targets are actually very ambitious in comparison to what would be the case if no policy action was taken in China. “It appears that the reduction relative to business as usual scenario in China is actually larger than that in the United States and in the European Union.” Dr Jotzo says it looks like China is serious about reigning in emissions growth. “It’s important to understand that Chinese emissions will keep rising even under that target, but they will rise a lot slower than they would have risen if no action had been taken,” he said. Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute says the targets do not add up. “You can just add them up and when they add up, you get to a world which increases global temperature by about 3.5 degrees, which would be sufficient to fairly much destroy most of the world’s coral reefs, lead to widespread drought across most of southern Australia, lead to the melting of glaciers and the water providing regions of Asia,” she said. The UN’s climate change chief, Yve de Boor, recently conceded the Copenhagen summit “did not deliver” what is needed to tackle climate change. He also made it clear that the Copenhagen Accord was not a substitute for the United Nation’s framework convention on climate change. Climate change scientists say it is positive that there is action by governments on a domestic front, but the challenge is translating that into an effective global agreement. The next opportunity will not be until the next United Nations climate change meeting in Mexico in December.

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