Regional GHG reduction targets based on effort sharing: a comparison of studies

clim-policy coverNiklas Höhne, Michel den Elzen & Donovan Escalante
October 2013

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Over 40 studies that analyse future GHG emissions allowances or reduction targets for different regions based on a wide range of effort-sharing approaches and long-term concentration stabilization levels are compared. This updates previous work undertaken for the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Regional reduction targets differ significantly for each effort-sharing approach. For example, in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 1990 region, new proposals that emphasize the equity principles of responsibility, capability, and need, and those based on equal cumulative per capita emissions (carbon budgets), lead to relatively stringent emissions reduction targets. In order to reach a low concentration stabilization level of 450 ppm CO2e, the allowances under all effort sharing approaches in OECD1990 for 2030 would be approximately half of the emissions of 2010 with a large range, roughly two-thirds in the Economies in Transition (EIT), roughly at the 2010 emissions level or slightly below in Asia, slightly above the 2010 level in the Middle East and Africa and well below the 2010 level in Latin America. For 2050, allowances in OECD1990 and EIT would be a fraction of today’s emissions, approximately half of 2010 emission levels in Asia, and possibly less than half of the 2010 level in Latin America.

Policy relevance:

The concept of equity and the stringency of future national GHG reduction targets are at the heart of the current debate on the new international climate change agreement to be adopted in 2015. Policy insights gained from an analysis of over 40 studies, which have quantitatively analysed the proposed GHG reduction targets, are presented. It is found that the outcome of effort-sharing approaches is often largely determined by the way the equity principle is implemented and that the distributional impacts of such approaches can be significantly different depending on the criteria used, the stabilization level and shape of the global emissions pathway. However, the current literature only covers a small proportion of the possible allocation approaches. There should thus be an in-depth modelling comparison to ensure consistency and comparability of results and inform decision making regarding the reduction of GHG emissions..