The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced on February 1 that it has received national pledges from 55 countries to limit and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020. The Copenhagen Accord, an agreement reached at the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, called for countries to submit their emissions targets to the UNFCCC by the end of January. The 55 countries represent 78% of all global emissions from energy use. Among industrialized countries, the commitments come from Australia, Canada, Croatia, the European Union and its member states, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the United States. Commitments also came from 23 developing countries, including such major emitters as Brazil, China, India, the Republic of Korea, and South Africa.
However, it’s worth noting that many of the commitments, particularly those of the developed countries, hinge on similar commitments being made by other countries. They also use varying base years for comparison. In the case of the United States, the commitment is to reduce GHG emissions “in the range of 17%” below 2005 levels, “in conformity with anticipated U.S. energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation.” The UNFCCC notes that the next round of formal climate negotiations is scheduled for Bonn, Germany, at the end of May, although several countries have indicated their wish to see a quick return to the negotiations with more meetings than the scheduled sessions.