This report examines four recent detailed studies of countries’ mitigation pledges under the Cancun Agreements, for the purpose of comparing developed (Annex 1) country pledges to developing (non-Annex 1) country pledges. It finds that there is broad agreement that developing country pledges amount to more mitigation than developed country pledges. That conclusion applies across all four studies and across all their various cases, despite the diversity of assumptions and methodologies employed and the substantial differences in their quantification of the pledges. The studies also find that the Annex 1 pledges could be significantly diminished by several factors, such as lenient accounting rules on the use of surplus allowances, double-counting of offsets, and accounting methodologies for land use, land-use change, and forestry. The studies further note that the mitigation pledged globally is consistent with a global temperature rise of greater than 2°C — and possibly as much as 5°C. Avoiding this much warming would require developed countries to raise their pledges to the levels required by science and equity, and fulfill those ambitions through actual mitigation. While this report concludes that developed country pledges are not high enough, it does not conversely imply that developing country pledges are too high. With appropriate international technological cooperation and financial support, developing countries could also fulfill higher levels of ambition, consistent with keeping warming below 2°C or 1.5°C.
Sivan Kartha is a Senior Scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute-US Center and co-leader of SEI’s institute-wide research theme Managing Climate Risks. Peter Erickson is a Staff Scientist in the Climate and Energy program at SEI’s Seattle office. The report above is Stockholm Environment Institute Working Paper WP-US-1107 (June 2011), reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.