Assessment of the potentials to increase emissions reduction targets by the major GHGs emitters taking into consideration technological and political feasibility

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This report shows the potential distribution of the emissions reduction efforts between different Parties based on different approaches and presents an in-depth assessment of the circumstances influencing the (over-) achievement of the currently suggested emissions reduction goals. The analysis focuses on the following countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan and the United States.


Main findings:

Keeping global warming well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement, requires accelerated efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in all countries. Current mitigation targets for 2020 and 2030, as well as long-term targets, are inconsistent with these temperature limits. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are expected to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. Key political moments to do so include the United Nations Secretary General (UN SG) Climate Change Summit in September 2019 and the 25th Conference of Parties (COP) in December 2019.

This report shows the potential distribution of the emissions reduction efforts between different Parties and presents an in-depth assessment of the circumstances influencing the (over-) achievement of the currently suggested emissions reduction goals. The analysis focuses on the following countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan and the United States.

For each country, the report draws conclusions to what extent mitigation targets could be strengthened, based on the following elements:

  • The socioeconomic context: The socioeconomic data, including up-to-date population levels, urbanisation and electrification percentages, rates of economic growth and the propensity for corruption, provide context for mitigation actions and their political feasibility. This section summarises data from international data sources, such as the World Bank, Transparency International and different UN organisations.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and energy profiles: GHG and energy profiles show which areas are most critical to consider for mitigation efforts. This section illustrates historical emissions data based on PRIMAP data and energy consumption based on the IEA.
  • Emissions projections in comparison to mitigation targets: Some countries are set to (over-) achieve their mitigation targets, while others lag behind in implementation. This section illustrates the mitigation targets of the countries and projected emissions under implemented policies, based on the Climate Action Tracker.
  • Emissions pathways resulting from global least-cost pathways: There are models that distribute global emission pathways in line with the temperature limits to countries, assuming a most cost-efficient distribution of efforts. This means that the cheapest mitigation options are used first, regardless of which country implements them. The cost-effective reduction shares in this report are based on recent marginal abatement cost curves (MACC) from the POLES database, which were used to derive globally cost-effective national pathways. The model covers all energy- and process-related GHG emissions. MACCs are provided for 50 countries (including all countries assessed in this report) and 20 regions. Data is provided up to a maximum shadow carbon price of 1.200 EUR/t. The MACCs are based on the data from the EnerBlue scenario and describe mitigation potentials additional to the EnerBlue scenario. The EnerBlue scenario assumes the continuation of current policies in a way that the 2030 targets defined as part of the COP21 NDCs are successfully achieved.
  • Emissions pathways assuming an equitable distribution of mitigation efforts: There are many studies that calculate the required contribution of countries to global mitigation efforts, based on different equity principles, such as historical responsibility or equality. This approach summarises data from the literature on what each country’s “fair share” of global mitigation effort is for 2030 and 2050. All data for this approach are drawn from Climate Action Tracker (CAT). Given the large variability of equity proposals, criteria and metrics, each country has a wide equity range covering a large number of results from the literature. CAT further divides the equity range to determine the levels, where, if all countries adopted a similar ambition level, global temperature increase would be at 2°C and at 1.5°C.
  • Insights regarding the political context of mitigation ambition: The technologies leading to emission reductions are already available and are in many cases competitive with the costs of high-emitting options, even if the external costs of the latter are excluded. Their deployment is still strongly dependent on the political landscape. The political feasibility of, for example, the phasing out of counterproductive measures such as fossil fuel subsidies, and increasing mitigation ambition overall is investigated in the last section of each country profile.

Contact for further information: Hanna Fekete