Pledges on emissions 'point way to global warming deal'

New pledges by the world's two biggest polluters to tackle their emissions could "unlock two of the last doors" to a comprehensive deal on global warming at upcoming crunch talks according to the UN's climate chief.

New pledges by the world's two biggest polluters to tackle their emissions could "unlock two of the last doors" to a comprehensive deal on global warming at upcoming crunch talks according to the UN's climate chief.

The US pledge to reduce emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020 - effectively a 4 per cent cut on 1990 figures – has been followed by specific proposals from China on how it would slow its growth in greenhouse gas emissions.

The announcements come just days before the start of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, which aims to secure agreement on global measures to tackle climate change, including cutting emissions and providing funding for poor countries to tackle rising temperatures.

The UN's Yvo de Boer said: "The US commitment to specific, mid-term emission cut targets and China's commitment to specific action on energy efficiency can unlock two of the last doors to a comprehensive agreement."

But he warned: "Let there be no doubt that we need continued strong ambition and leadership. In particular, we still await clarity from industrialised nations on the provision of large-scale finance to developing countries for immediate and long-term climate action."

The US has laid out its proposals for targets to reduce emissions over the coming years, with a final goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 83 per cent on 2005 levels by mid century.

The White House also announced that President Barack Obama would be attending the climate talks, in the first week of the two-week conference in Copenhagen. More than 60 world leaders have said they will go for the closing days.

China has responded by saying that it would reduce carbon dioxide output per unit of GDP by 40 per cent to 45 per cent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005. The figure is not a cut in emissions but will slow the growth in greenhouse gases compared to "business as usual". Premier Wen Jiabao will also take part in the Copenhagen meeting.

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in the UK welcomed the "important opening contribution" from China.

But he said: "At the Major Economies Forum in July, major developing countries including China committed to take action to reduce their emissions by a meaningful deviation from business as usual levels and to the goal of limiting global temperature increases to no more than 2C.

"It is essential that for the right ambitious deal to be made in Copenhagen, China and other nations will need to take action consistent with this 2C objective."

Environmental group Greenpeace said it believed China could do more to tackle its emissions. Greenpeace China's Ailun Yang said: "Given the urgency and magnitude of the climate change crisis, China needs stronger measures to tackle climate change.

"This is a significant announcement at a very important point in time. But China could do more."

But she said: "This is another challenge to the industrialised world, particularly the US, which has just announced an inadequate emissions reduction target of only 4-5 per cent by 2020."

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them

Close