Role of Industrialized Nations

Taking RESPONSIBILITY... targets for industrialized nations

Based on IPCC science, the Bali Climate Conference in 2007 noted that industrialized nations should aim to cut their emissions by 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020 as an interim, with much deeper cuts later to keep global warming at a low level.
By early 2009, most nations’ promises remain below this range.

Leading the way are Norway, with the intention of reducing emissions by 40%, and Japan with a reduction of 25%.

The European Union has put forward a unilateral 20% reduction, with the possibility of moving to 30% if others follow suit. However, the EU’s proposal has too many options for offsetting, which would in effect mean emissions reductions at home of no more than 5% between now and 2020.

Norway’s commitment also includes provision for substantial amounts of offsetting, rather than reduction of domestic emissions
The US administration has announced its intention to bring emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020, with further cuts under consideration.

Canada has made little if any effort to curb its emissions in line with its Kyoto commitments.

This is not good enough.

The fewer cuts we make, the more we lock ourselves into dirty infrastructure, and the more we risk exceeding the 2°C threshold.

WWF asks that as a group, industrialized countries make binding commitments to achieve cuts of at least 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. Most of these cuts must occur at home.

Failure by industrialized countries to reach such a target will also dramatically reduce the world’s options in future decades. In particular it will use up atmospheric “space” for emissions that should be left for poorer countries as they develop their economies. This especially applies to the least developed nations.

In this zero-sum game, every tonne emitted by a developed country is a tonne that cannot be emitted by a developing country.

Nor can we leave things till 2020.
  • There cannot be a gap between the Kyoto compliance period of 2008-2012 and the next.
  • We need to agree targets for a compliance period running from 2013 to 2017.
  • And it should set a date for negotiations on targets for 2018-2022 to begin not later than 2013.

WWF also believes there should be an emergency review clause, so the world can react promptly to any worsening in the news from scientists.
 / ©: Obamamedia
President Obama's publicity poster, 2008
© Obamamedia

Tigers MUST come to the table

The Kyoto Protocol divided the world between rich industrialized nations that were given emissions targets (so-called Annex 1 countries) and the rest.

But the world isn’t quite so simple.

Some non-Annex 1 countries have become newly industrialized, and are now richer than some Annex 1 countries such as Romania and Ukraine. And thanks to their booming economies, several now have higher per capita emissions and higher per capita income.

WWF believes these countries can no longer shelter behind their formal status as developing countries. They must accept their responsibilities as newly industrialized economies and commit to binding emissions targets.

For instance, per head of the population, Malaysia’s emissions from burning fossil fuels are now the same as those of Britain, and more than twice those of Romania.

Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Israel have doubled their per capita emissions since 1990, again to European levels.

Singapore’s emissions are up by nearly 50% and now higher than most European countries’.

Many Gulf States, having been excused from Kyoto Protocol targets, have even higher emissions. Saudi Arabia has almost doubled emissions since 1990 – they are now higher per capita than for any European country except Luxembourg.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar now occupy the top 4 slots in the per capita league table.

The top spot is held by Qatar, whose emissions have risen more than 4-fold since 1990 and, per capita, are now 3x those of the USA.
Change in carbon emissions from fossil fuel use 1990-2005 (index)

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.