China and the USA Announce Greenhouse Gas Targets for 2020 That Are Weaker than the Kyoto Protocol

China is going to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent compared with the level of 2005.

“In 2020, the country’s GDP will at least double that of now, so will the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). But the required reduction of emissions intensity by 40 to 45 percent in 2020 compared with the level of 2005 means the emissions of GHG in 2020 has to be roughly the same as emissions now,” Qi Jianguo said.

In order to achieve the target, more efforts must be made besides strictly abiding by the principle of “energy-saving and emissions reductions,” he said.

The government would devote major efforts to developing renewable and nuclear energies to ensure the consumption of non-fossil-fuel power accounted for 15 percent of the country’s total primary energy consumption by 2020, said the State Council statement.

More trees would be planted and the country’s forest area would increase by 40 million hectares and forest volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters from the levels of 2005.

India might come up with a plan to cut emissions in response to those announced by the US and China.

Desai also said that China’s steps are not drastic, because it talks about reducing carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for every dollar of GDP it generates. “These announcements are not legally binding and China’s GDP will continue to grow,” he added.

The United States had earlier announced that it could offer a target reduction of 17% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as compared to 2005 levels

Another expert feels that the steps announced by US are meaningless. “The US has announced an absolute reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels, by 2020. This means a mere 3% reduction below 1990 levels. Science demands that developed countries cut emission by 40% below 1990 levels. In fact, the US proposal is a death-knell for the Kyoto Protocol, which in its first commitment period had asked for more — 5.2% reduction over 1990 levels,” said Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment.