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Report: China Doing Most Global Warming Abatement, World Still Far Behind Necessary Target

climate change policyThe DB Climate Change Advisors has released its latest Global Climate Change Policy Tracker report [PDF], its fourth. The report has quite a bit of interesting info in it. Most important, from a global perspective, is that “the best case global outlook” based on potential current targets still leaves us is with “a 5.8Gt ‘gap’ compared to a 450ppm stabilization pathway.” And even 450ppm is way to high according too top climate scientists.

The good news is the report shows that a lot of progress has been made in the past few years, since the Copenhagen Accord was adopted. Here’s a look at how much the estimated emissions gap has been cut over these past two and a half years (to enlarge, hold down ‘ctrl’ or ‘command’ and click the ‘+’ key):

And here’s the report’s top 10 list of policies/targets based on abatement potential:

But the overall story is that we’re still far behind the 450ppm target even under a best case scenario.

China — Largest Emitter, but Biggest Source of Abatement

The report projects that emissions will peak in 2016 after growth in developing countries slows down a bit. While China is projected to stay the world’s largest emitter up through 2020, even if it is able to hit all of its policy goals (which could be challenging), DB Climate Change Advisors notes that “China’s energy intensity target (i.e. efficiency) remains the largest source of abatement globally.”

Germany — Even with Increased Emissions, is a World Leader

“The phase out of nuclear power in Germany will most likely negatively impact emissions out to 2020 on its own,” DB Climate Change Advisors notes, “but in context of all policies Germany still reduces emissions substantially and achieves their emissions targets.”

Conventional wisdom is that Germany’s emissions will go up die to the nuclear phase-out. Some, however, have faith that this phase-out will only speed up a transition to decentralized renewable energy. Even if the former is true, though, Germany is so far ahead of most of the world in its emissions cuts that it is still a model for the world when it comes to global warming policy.

Improvement, but Need More from Many Countries (Including US)

The report shows continued policy improvement since the Copenhagen Accord was made. However, it seems clear that we need a significant bump in strong climate change policy to avoid considerable climate catastrophe that could threaten the existence of human civilization.

In an email from someone at DB, a couple of the key takeaway points they saw were:

  • China, Germany, Brazil and many of the Nordic countries have strong policy regimes in place to meet their mandates, whilst the rest of the EU and other emerging economies’ policy regimes remain mixed.
  • The US and Italy in particular remain challenged in meeting their clean energy mandates. However, in terms of emissions, an aggressive coal to gas switch can have a valuable effect in the US.

I primarily agree. However, in light of recent research on natural gas, I think more emphasis needs to be placed on growing out the US’ truly clean energy economy.

Overall, though, the message of this report is quite similar to the IEA’s recent annual report — yes, we’re moving forward, but we’re still moving way too slowly.

Source: DB Climate Change Advisors

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