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Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) Comparisons

By:
Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Apr 6, 2016  at  at 12:03 PM
Category
Climate Change

Prior to COP 21, nations were asked to submit Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) toward the COP objective of reducing global carbon emissions. The key aspects of the INDCs submitted by the four largest CO2 emitters are listed below.

1 – China (9680 Mt CO2)

  • Peak CO2 emissions by around 2030.
  • Lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels.
  • Increase non-fossil share of primary energy consumption to ~20%.
  • Increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters from 2005 levels.

2 – USA (5561 Mt CO2)

  • Reduce GHG emissions by 26-28% by 2025 from 2005 levels

3 – India (2597 Mt CO2)

  • Lower CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020.

4 – Russia (1595 Mt CO2)

  • “Limiting anthropogenic greenhouse gases in Russia to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 might be a long-term indicator, subject to the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests.”

The EU countries collectively are the fourth largest emitter (~4500 Mt CO2). The EU countries have agreed to reduce annual emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The INDCs of the rest of the nations which submitted them can be found here.

There are several key points which must be made about these INDCs.

  • None of these INDCs are legally binding.
  • Global annual CO2 emissions would continue to increase, even if these INDCs are actually achieved.
  • Any nation can exit the agreement after 3 years, effective 1 year after notification.
  • The INDCs are not directly comparable in form or time frame.
  • The USA contribution is a percentage reduction from a historical emissions level by 2025
  • The Russian contribution is also a percentage reduction from a historical emissions level by 2030, subject to a condition.
  • The Chinese contribution is actually negative “until around 2030”, though it commits to a reduction of “carbon intensity” from a historical intensity level.
  • The Indian contribution is also negative, through an undefined time frame, though it commits to a reduction of “carbon intensity” by 2020.

In summary, it is not possible to determine when, or even if, global annual CO2 emissions would stabilize, no less begin to decline, under the Agreement reached at the conclusion of COP 21. It appears unlikely that stabilization will occur prior to 2030; and, even less likely that net zero CO2 emissions will be achieved by 2050.

It is clear that the current INDCs, even if met in their entirety, are insufficient to allow the earth to stay within the 2oC target established by the UNFCCC, no less achieve the 1.5oC sought by the nations which have declared themselves to be the most vulnerable. These nations are typically low lying coastal nations or island nations thought to be most susceptible to sea level rise. This is particularly interesting, since there has been no significant change in the rate of sea level rise over the past 145 years, despite the significant increase in global annual CO2 emissions over the past 65 years. There does not appear to be even a coincidental relationship between CO2 emissions and sea level rise, no less any causal relationship.