Clean Power climate change policy

Published on April 29th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


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

April 29th, 2012 by  

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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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Aprilette Sulib

    This is a very interesting article. Co2 emissions are destroying the Earth’s atmosphere and our future generation might not have safe air to breathe in anymore. All this technology and for what? …the destruction of the atmosphere including the air we breathe is being compromised!!!


  • Thanks for the PDF in the post. It was nice to see on page 19 that by 2016 some models /forecasts have us breaking the back of carbon emission increases.

    Given how dismal the rest of the report is about a few laggards (US!) I think we have to redouble our efforts to make our country a better example to the developing (and expanding!) nations.

    All the developing nations want an American style level of consumption. God help us all if they get it the same way we did.

    @Luke- The people at are realists. No way we’re getting under that level without some sort of cheap C02 free energy breakthrough. In the meantime that org fights hard against the idea that 450 is ok.

    • ” It was nice to see on page 19 that by 2016 some models /forecasts have us breaking the back of carbon emission increases. ”

      – I agree.

      “Given how dismal the rest of the report is about a few laggards (US!) I think we have to redouble our efforts to make our country a better example to the developing (and expanding!) nations.”

      – And I agree.

      Actually, I agree with all your comments — thanks. 😀

  • Rhjames

    Tell me again how many new coal fired power stations China is building each year?

    • China is building too many new coal power stations and that is the main reason why their emissions are still increasing. But at least they are retiring older, less efficient coal plants at the same time, so it’s not quite as bad as it seems. While I do wish China was doing even more to reduce CO2 emissions, it’s hard for me to rouse at them too much when my own country emits about three times as much CO2 per capita as they do. Fortunately we are finally starting to get our act together here down under and hopefully I’ll be able to build up a head of moral opprobrium that I’ll be able to unleash before too long.

      • lol. nice. 😀

      • Rhjames

        China (and India) elected to have huge population increases in the past. The result is a lot of people with a low standard of living. Other countries have had low population increases, with better lifestyle. I believe China should be the one paying compensation, along with India.

  • Luke

    Good post, it’d be nice to see us on the downward side of the Bell curve in regards to global CO2 emissions – 450ppm is way too high.

    The avg. CO2 concentration BEFORE the industrial revolution was 280ppm. The people at are idiots – it’s not a ‘safe limit’, it needs to be MUCH lower.

    • Chris

      CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from approximately 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial times…

      There is no evidence to support your claim that the scientists in are “idiots.” And you did not provide any….furthermore, this group recommends 350ppm is the maximum carrying capacity of the Earth’s systems. Climate research data supports this claim. I support this claim.

      You want to debate with Dr Hansen what the target CO2 level should be? Have you read his published work on the 350ppm number (located here: What university did you attend Luke?

      • Luke

        Christ, calm down man!

        We need to get CO2 concentrations back to 280ppm.
        No compromises. No 300ppm, no 350ppm, no 400ppm. Anything we have added to the atmosphere IS NOT natural and should be reversed.

        280. Pronto.

        • Rhjames

          You can’t be serious. At CO2 220ppm, plant growth is significantly slowed. At 150ppp, plants don’t grow. I don’t want to be anywhere near these levels. We have an increasing population to feed somehow.

          • Luke

            Why should we aim for an ‘increasing population’? The world cannot sustain infinite (economic, political, population) growth, so we should we try to aim for it.

            In the past 400,000 years – CO2 concentrations reached as low as 190ppm, and the world continued on just fine.

          • Rhjames

            Exactly right about the population. All nations need to acknowledge that this is the greatest threat to our plant. I wouldn’t have too much confidence in estimates of CO2 concentration 400,000 years ago. Scientists can’t agree on what it was 80 years ago. I can show you direct chemical measurements from 1940 that show that it was 430ppm then.

          • rhjames

            Not with billions of humans on it

    • Rhjames

      Where is the evidence that it’s not safe? CO2 concentration in submarines is twice this level. At a third of the current level, life on earth as we know it ceases to exist. I consider it dangerously low.

      • Luke

        So? The Earth isn’t in a submarine. What a stupid analogy. CO2 concentrations have been as low as 190ppm in the last 400,000 years and life went on just fine. Can I have a citation for that fact you presented me?

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