29 July, 2014

Setting fair and adequate benchmarks for key countries


Bill Hare, Michiel Schaeffer, Marcia Rocha, M. Louise Jeffery

In this report, we aim to better understand the implications of different effort-sharing criteria and metrics on emission reduction efforts for key countries in the post-2015 agreement.

We defined ten scenarios considering different sets of criteria (amongst historical responsibility, potential to mitigate, capacity and vulnerability) and their proxy metrics (the various possible numerical expressions for each of these criteria) and estimated emissions allowances for 10 parties – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Russian Federation, South Africa and USA.

Our analysis shows that countries are affected in different ways by different criteria. Overall, we observe that metrics related to potential tend to lead to the low end of the range of emissions allowances within Non-Annex I countries and often to the high end of the range within Annex I countries, which is an expression of the generally lower energy efficiency and higher carbon intensity of Non-Annex I countries.

For all Annex I countries (except for Japan), Brazil and South Africa, responsibility metrics define the low end of the range of emissions allowances. The study of scenarios that combine different criteria and metrics deliver quite a wide range of emissions allowances for the countries studied here.

All countries are required to reduce emissions below 2010 levels by as soon as 2020, except for China and India who in some scenarios (and essentially those with focus on historical responsibility) are allowed to increase emissions relative to 2010 levels up to 2050. This analysis also reveals that the choice in criteria is important, but is not the only driver of the variability found in the range of emissions allowances for countries. Choices of metric or the length of cumulative emissions period also play a very important role in determining how much a country must reduce its emissions.