In The Field

Barcelona climate: New analysis shows progress in emerging economies

And now I’ll take a look at the major developing countries, as promised both yesterday and today. A new analysis of climate commitments by the six biggest emerging economies – Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Mexico and South Korea – suggests that their cumulative emissions add up to a 25 percent reduction compared to “business as usual” projections for 2020. The report (not yet available on the web but discussed in a session on Tuesday) was commissioned by the German government and this portion was led by Niklas Hohne of the consultancy Ecofys in Koln. For some background, see our earlier coverage here.

Hohne said these six countries make up roughly two-thirds of the developing world emissions, which are more than half of the global total; include everybody and you get a 16 percent reduction in cumulative emissions from the developing world. That is in fact within the 15-30 percent reduction range that has been extracted from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent assessment and made into official EU policy.

This is without word of new commitments expected from Brazil, which ended up delaying its announcement of a new, potentially more comprehensive emissions commitment this week (see our story this week here). President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva held a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue on Tuesday, but the government was unable to settle on a proposal and ended up scheduling another meeting for 14 November.

It should be noted that the report’s analysis of Brazil’s existing policies (largely its commitment to curb deforestation by 80 percent by 2020) comes in significantly higher than the analysis by Brazilian scientists cited in our story. The report suggests that existing policies could reduce emissions by 41 percent below BAU, which is higher than a more comprehensive scenario analyzed by Rede Clima. But BAU is a tricky thing to calculate, and Hohne acknowledged that their BAU estimates were in some cases higher than other analyses, particularly for China.

All of which is to say that these numbers might be a bit optimistic, but the clear implication is that the developing world is either living up to its obligations, as interpreted by the EU at least, or coming close. Whether that message holds up or indeed gets through in the first place, however, is a different question.

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