Climate tracker: What’s happened to pledges for Paris summit?

National climate strategies are the building blocks of a UN pact, and time is running out for governments to deliver

(Pic: Thawt Hawthje/Flickr)

(Pic: Thawt Hawthje/Flickr)

By Ed King

So far, 36 countries  have revealed how they will contribute to a global climate change pact, set to be agreed in Paris later this year.

These promises, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), will form the foundations of  a deal to curb global warming.

The pledges received cover just 29% of world greenhouse gas emissions. With nearly 200 countries set to take part in this deal, pressure is rising on those who have yet to submit their data.

A leaked EU memo seen by Reuters indicated several big emitters will not deliver their climate strategies by 30 June, a target the bloc has set for drumming up actions. But EU diplomats aim to make sure governments are “sensitised to the political importance of submitting an ambitious contribution”.

While China was likely to be ready by June, others including Indonesia, Brazil and Australia were likely to wait. “India remains non-committed but suggests September,” it added.

Below, RTCC looks at 11 key countries, responsible for nearly 45% (EDGAR) of emissions, and reveals how their plans are progressing.


China (21.97%)

Last month a spokesperson at the ministry of foreign affairs told RTCC China is still doing research on its UN pledge and was aiming to announce its plans before the middle of 2015. EU officials think this could be as early as June.

Last year, the US and China jointly released their long term climate goals. Chinese president Xi Jinping said the Beijing government would aim for an emissions peak by 2030. Emissions are believed to have fallen in 2014 due to a 2.9% drop in coal use.

Brazil (5.70%)

On April 16 Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told Bloomberg Brazil would “not be the last” to submit its climate plan, adding “you will be surprised”. The odds are it will deliver its submission in July.

Potential targets include zero net deforestation, and an increase in the share of solar, wind and hydro. But new goals will come at a cost, Teixeira warned. “I am tired of developed countries coming to developing ones saying what we have to change – at the same time they don’t change anything,” she said.

Jose Goldemberg, former interim Environment Secretary and a professor at University of Sao Paulo told RTCC the INDC was in its early stages. “All that happened so far was a consultation conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was rather inconclusive,” he said.

India (5.55%)

(Pic: White House/Flickr)

US president Barack Obama has worked hard to encourage the Indian government to deliver tough carbon cuts (Pic: White House/Flickr)

Delhi’s plans are hard to read, local observers have told RTCC. The government is consulting across all sectors, with leading think-tanks like TERI tasked with working out how emissions from transport could be cut.

India’s INDC is likely to arrive later this year, but ahead of the 1 October deadline we understand.

In 2010, India committed to reducing its GDP emissions intensity 20 to 25% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Extending this trajectory is one likely outcome. But with this will come more demands for financial support, RTCC understands.

Japan (2.65%)

Tokyo appears to be holding out to see if a nationwide moratorium in the use of nuclear power will be lifted. According to Reuters, plans for nuclear to account for 20-22% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030 with additional renewables are under discussion.

Without atomic power, coal is likely to take up the slack. A mooted target of 20% below 2013 emission levels by 2030 has been branded “inadequate” by analysts, who say it’s in line with dangerous levels of global warming.

Australia (1.54%)

The bete noir of UN climate talks recently kicked off a consultation of its plans for a 2015 deal.

Australia must cut its power sector emissions more steeply to keep the world to 2C temperature rise, says the Climate Institute (Source: The Climate Institute)

Australia must cut its power sector emissions more steeply to keep the world to 2C temperature rise, says the Climate Institute
(Source: The Climate Institute)

For 2020, it’s committed to cutting emissions 5% on 2000 levels, but analysts at Climate Action Tracker say it’s on course for a 12-18% rise after scrapping its main climate policy – a carbon tax.

Government has rejected calls from the independent Climate Change Authority to aim for 30% cuts by 2025. This would be a “third more onerous than any other country” said environment chief Greg Hunt. With the huge coal lobby rumoured to be calling the shots in Canberra, this INDC is anyone’s guess.

Canada (1.5%)

Last month, a spokesperson told RTCC the government would submit its plans “well in advance” of Paris. This week, prime minister Stephen Harper said they would be out by May, but would not be as ambitious as US goals, which it has previously used as a benchmark.

“There will have to be additional regulatory measures going forward to achieve these targets,” he said.

At federal level the government has done little on climate change – not even mentioning it in the 2015 budget. The provinces are a different story, with plans afoot for a carbon pricing scheme that would cover 75% of Canadians.

Indonesia (1.46%)

According to a recent presentation from the National Development Planning Agency in Jakarta, a review of Indonesia’s INDC will run from January-August 2015, with a view to submitting its economy-wide goal in September. When complete, it will present an emissions cutting trajectory up to 2045.

By 2020, the country plans to cut emissions 26% from a business as usual scenario, but with more support (money) this could be 41%. Limited time, data and capacity have hindered work, say officials.

The success of the REDD+ forest protection scheme is central to Jakarta’s plans. Over 60% of its projected emissions for 2020 will come from forests and agriculture.

South Korea (1.24%)

Home to the world’s newest national carbon market, South Korea’s current goal is to cut emissions 30% on business-a- usual by 2020.

In January 2014, it released a long-term climate roadmap, which expected to lead to emission levels of between 597-637 MtCO2 equivalent in 2020 and 601-697 MtCO2e in 2030, according to the Climate Action Tracker team, indicating the government will aim to stabilise rather than radically cut emissions.

Last December, environment minister Yoon Seong-kyu said the INDC would be delivered by the October deadline in 2015.

Saudi Arabia (0.97%)

Oil and gas will be part of any climate solution, the chief Saudi negotiator told RTCC earlier this year. It is unclear how detailed its INDC will be, or how far down the road its planning is.

Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia (Pic: IISD/Flickr)

Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia (Pic: IISD/Flickr)

Insiders suggest it will offer a pledge by June – but this could simply underline its current emissions trajectory, which would rise 60% by 2030 on 2010 levels.

In March, influential oil minister Ali al-Naimi said solar investments were in the pipeline. By 2040, it hopes to get 40,000 megawatts from solar.

South Africa (0.90%)

Due by September at the latest, South Africa’s INDC is still in the planning stage.

A government report on March 26 explains it will be based on three criteria: the latest science, South Africa’s fair contribution and the need for flexibility to allow the country to make an economically viable low carbon transition. It’s also likely to specify goals for 2030 and 2050, and detail how much financial help the country will need.

A coal-rich country where demand for electricity exceeds supply, the government is under huge pressure to deliver fast and low-cost energy solutions. One thing to note: South Africa already has a 2025 target, 40% cuts on a business as usual scenario.

New Zealand (0.15%)

John Key’s government is unlikely to submit its plans before Australia – so late June or July looks a good bet. EU officials say it does not want to be seen as a “first mover”.

In 2010, it pledged to decrease emissions 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. But in 2012, the government declined to sign up to a 2013-2020 extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

What makes NZ interesting is how its vast forest stocks are used to allow it to meet any goal. The clever (or cynical) use of accounting rules mean (also detailed here) that by using carbon credits it could theoretically increase emissions 35% above 1990 levels by 2020 – and claim it’s cutting them.

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