Countries setting own carbon emissions
Dec 07, 2011 - McClatchy - pro.energycentral.com
As the world debates the set of
international rules that govern carbon emissions
targets for countries worldwide, individual governments
are already setting rules of their own.
A study launched on Monday on the sidelines of
the United Nations climate change conference in
Durban, South Africa found that 10 of 17 major
economies like China, Mexico and South Korea had
passed or were set to enact climate legislation
For example, China's 12th Five Year Plan set a
target of lowering the amount of energy used per
unit of gross domestic product by 40 per cent to
45 per cent by 2020, down from 2005 levels.
And South Korea looks set to pass a law requiring
major carbon dioxide emitters to be subject to
emissions trading rules.
The 17 countries studied, including Australia,
the United States, Indonesia, India and those in
the European Union, account for some 70 per cent
of global emissions.
The study was conducted by Globe International,
an organisation comprising Members of Parliament
from 16 major economies.
Singapore, which is not a member and not included
in the study, accounts for 0.2 per cent of global
emissions and has existing green-building and vehicle
It is also planning an Energy Conservation Act,
which from 2013 will require major energy users
to have energy managers and management plans and
UN conference chairman Christiana Figueres said: "What
this study is showing is that at the national level,
these kinds of national legislation are growing."
Globe president and former British environment
minister John Gummer, now Lord Deben, explained
that such legislation stems from countries acting
in their national self-interest.
For instance, the stable policy environment provides
certainty for businesses to invest in a country,
and opens the door to clean energy investment and
The flip side is that states without such legislation,
such as the US and Canada, are missing out on those
The study included any legislation or policy that
refers specifically to climate change, or relates
to cutting energy demand and carbon emissions,
promoting sustainable land use, transport and adaptation
to climate impacts.
But Lord Deben said that countries acting on their
own are not enough.
Last year, carbon emissions from the burning of
fossil fuels registered a record rise of 5.9 per
cent, or half a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
entering the air.
"There is no substitute for an agreement.
We need to have a continuance of the Kyoto process," Lord
Deben said, referring to the Kyoto Protocol that
sets carbon emissions targets for certain developed
"And we need to have all countries involved
in it, and we need to be able to carry forward
the decisions and agreements that were made (at
last year's UN talks) in Cancun. This is a necessary
part of preserving our future."
Speaking to The Straits Times at the study's release,
he noted that Globe plans to track in future studies
whether countries have done what they said they
But it is difficult to track the extent to which
such legislation cuts emissions, as calculations
vary, he added.
Separately, smaller, less-developed nations like
the Maldives, Colombia and Samoa and selected European
nations like Sweden and Denmark discussed on Monday
night their plans to become carbon-neutral: to
cut and offset their carbon emissions so they have
a footprint of zero.
The Maldives and Samoa, both small island nations,
have previously announced their bids to be carbon-neutral