Wednesday, February 03, 2010

WRI Analysis Shows Copenhagen Pledges Fall Far Short

Feb 2: The World Resources Institute (WRI) has issued a working paper entitled, "Comparability of Annex I Emission Reduction Pledges." As negotiated in December 2009, the Copenhagen Accord provides a mandate for Annex I Parties that choose to associate themselves with the Accord to register their emission reduction pledges by January 31, 2010 [See WIMS 2/1/10]. Many pledges have already been put forward by major industrialized countries and economic blocs. These include the European Union (EU), Japan, Canada, and Australia, and the US.

In the analysis, WRI assess Annex I pledges under the Copenhagen Accord, as well as pledges by Parties that have yet to associate themselves with the Accord (namely Belarus and Ukraine). The Working Paper presents a comparative analysis of the pledges, which was performed with two key aims: (1) To enable negotiators from all countries to compare the emission reduction outcomes that would result from industrialized countries' pledges; and (2) To facilitate efforts to aggregate emission reduction pledges in order to calculate the global impact on the atmosphere.

The absence of details regarding some countries' mechanisms to achieve emission reductions present hurdles to measuring comparability. WRI indicates that countries will need to clarify how they plan to fulfill their pledges, especially with regard to the use of international offsets and inclusion of land use, land use change, forestry (LULUCF) emissions and reductions, if aggregate effort and comparability are to be effectively measured.

WRI says, "Nevertheless, the analysis provides a preliminary picture of where the world is post Copenhagen. Our key conclusions and recommendations are listed . . . Most importantly, we found that while developed country emission reduction pledges could have an important and potentially substantial impact, they will not be enough to meet even the lower range of emission reductions required for stabilizing concentrations of CO2e at 450 ppm and certainly fall very short of goals to reduce concentrations below that level."

WRI's primary conclusion indicates, "Existing pledges by developed countries, when added together, could represent a substantial effort for reducing Annex I emissions by 2020 -- a 12 to 19% reduction of emissions below 1990 levels depending on the assumptions made about the details of the pledges. But they still fall far short of the range of emission reductions -- 25 to 40% --that the IPCC notes would be necessary for stabilizing concentrations of CO2e at 450 ppm, a level associated with a 26 to 78% risk of overshooting a 2ÂșC goal (Meinshausen 2005). If the pledges are not ratcheted up even beyond the highest pledges, this analysis shows that the additional reductions required between 2020 and 2050 would be significant, with emissions dropping roughly 2.5% annually to reach a goal of 80% below 1990 levels by mid-century."

WRI has also developed an Interactive Chart: Analyzing Comparability of Annex I Emission Reduction Pledges. The updated interactive chart presents countries' pledges side-by–side, including the most recent pledges filed in the Copenhagen Accord. It allows users to break down the pledges based on factors such as different base years, different ranges of commitments, and -– a new feature -– on the basis of emissions intensity. The tools enable negotiators to compare the different emission reduction pledges and aggregate them in order to calculate their global impact -- and see if that impact will be sufficient.

Access the 22-page WRI working paper (click here). Access the WRI Interactive Chart (click here). Access WRI's International Climate Policy website for more information (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for more information (click here). Access an additional informative table from the U.S. Climate Action Network on country commitments which we have referenced previously (click here).