2020 Climate Targets

26 November 2009

It seems that President Obama will come to Copenhagen with an offer to reduce carbon emissions by 17% and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will bring an offer to reduce "carbon intensity", that is the amount of carbon per unit of GDP by 40-50%. The EU's climate change package is to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020.

The Chinese offer is not actually a reduction in carbon emission since GDP will grow faster than this from 2005 to 2020. While these are less than some hoped they are better than many feared. There are encouraging signs that global governance on this issue could pave the way for agreements on other challenges including global health issues - but it also shows the importance of building public support, since countries with the most ambitious targets are those where public support has been effectively mobilised, while in both the US and China, for very different reasons, there is opposition or antipathy towards climate change.

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