Skip navigation

Mitigation pledges submitted to UN

Sixty-one countries have submitted mitigation pledges to the UN, under a 'soft' January 31 deadline agreed under the Copenhagen Accord.

The 61 countries account for over 78% of global emissions from energy use and include major emitters such as US, China, India, EU. View targets submitted by developed countries here, and those by developing countries here.

Ed Miliband, Secretary of State on Energy and Climate Change, responded to the country mitigation pledges by acknowledging the global and 'irreversible' recognition that emissions cuts is 'the right thing to do'.

'Just one month after Copenhagen, countries accounting for nearly 80% of global emissions have shown they're pushing ahead with domestic action on climate change. With countries including the USA, China and India setting out what they will do, this is a significant change compared with just twelve months ago. There is now a world-wide recognition that cutting emissions and moving to a low carbon economy is the right thing to do. The change is irreversible', he said.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, also acknowledged the global commitment to tackling climate change. 'The commitment to confront climate change at the highest level is beyond doubt. These pledges have been formally communicated to the UNFCCC.'

UN: 'Greater ambition' is required

Critics of the Copenhagen Accord – the eventual outcome initially brokered by a handful of countries during the COP15 negotiations – have questioned its ambition.

Yvo de Boer acknowledged: 'Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge. But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion'.

Ed Miliband commented: 'The figures published today are significant and if countries, including the EU, implement their commitments to the maximum levels we will be in striking distance of ensuring that global emissions peak by 2020. This is a crucial first step to keeping temperature rises to no more than two degrees.'

Copenhagen is a step forward

Despite its disappointments, the Accord does represent important progress and should not be underestimated. Amongst the Accord strengths:

  • It endorses two degrees warming limit as the benchmark for global progress on climate change
  • Unlike every previous agreement, developed and also all leading developing countries, have agreed to make specific commitments to tackle emissions
  • Countries have, for the first time, signed up to comprehensive measurement, reporting and verification of progress
  • On finance, there are significant commitments made by the rich world to developing countries, including fast start finance worth 10bn dollars a year by 2012 and specific support to tackle deforestation. And, in the longer term, the Accord supported the goal - first set by the Prime Minister - of 100bn dollars a year of public and private finance for developing countries by 2020.

In an open letter, the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has reflected on the way forward for international action on climate change following the Copenhagen conference .

A route to further agreement

Since Copenhagen, Mr Miliband has often expressed that 'the politics needs to catch up with the science'. On the January 31 deadline, he said 'There’s still more to do and we’ll continue to push for bold cuts in emissions as well as a comprehensive, legally binding climate change framework under the UN.'

The following are amongst the submitted targets:

  • Australia: -5% up to -15% or -25%, on 2000 base year
  • Brazil: 36-39% off BAU
  • EU: 20/30% off 1990 by 2020
  • China: 40-45% CO2 intensity on 2005 level by 2020; increase share of non-fossil fuels (ie renewables plus nuclear) to around 15% by 2020; increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from 2005 levels
  • India: 20-25 emissions intensity reduction by 2020 off 2005 levels
  • South Africa: 34% off BAU by 2020
  • USA: 17% off 2005 by 2020, in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy & climate legislation. 30% by 2025 & 42% by 2030, in line with goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050

For a full list of targets, view the submissions made to the UN by developed countries and developing countries.

Related links

Fifty-five countries pledge to cut greenhouse emissions, The Guardian. February 2