The combined developed countries targets add up to 10-15% below 1990 levels by 2020.
The developed countries (“or Annex I” of the Kyoto Protocol) emissions reductions are compared to emissions in 1990. To keep within a 2°C pathway, developed country reductions would need to be within the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 according to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).
Working out what developed country targets really mean involves several steps. We start with the "raw" targets, translate those into emission reductions relative to a common base year (1990) and then account for special accounting rules on land, land use change and forestry that countries want. We then have to estimate the effect of surplus emission units.
The developed countries’ industrial "raw" targets translate into an aggregated emission reduction of 12-17% below 1990 levels by 2020. However, the proposed forestry credits these countries are demanding would degrade this, increasing allowed emissions in 2020 by about 2% compared to 1990. This would bring the reductions in industrial GHG emissions to about 10-15% below 1990 levels by 2020.
The low reduction target (10%) is based on unconditional targets for most countries. The highest reduction target (15%) is linked by most countries to a strong international agreement.
Projected actual emissions for the 2008-2012 first commitment period for Annex I countries as a whole are less than their aggregate targets (allowed emissions) under the Kyoto Protocol.
Under the Kyoto Protocol rules, surplus 'assigned amount units' (AAUs - allowed emissions) from this period may be carried over to subsequent commitment periods and hence be used to increase effective emissions allowances after 2012.
The total amount of surplus AAUs from the first commitment period is large enough, if used, to allow the Annex I countries, as a group, to follow a business-as-usual emission pathway until after 2020 (and even longer after 2020 for the lowest end of the Copenhagen reduction proposals), while still complying with the currently announced reduction targets.
This implies that the overall emissions of the developed countries would be only 6% below 1990 levels by 2020, which is equal to business as usual. Given the existing rules and provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, we have assumed in our climate model projections that all surplus AAUs would ultimately be emitted to the atmosphere.
Once these are exhausted (sometime after 2020), Annex I countries’ emissions are assumed to revert from their business-as-usual projection to the allowed emission reduction pathway, including the assumed forest credits.
If the amount of surplus AAUs from the first and/or subsequent commitment periods were to be limited as part of a new agreement on mitigating global warming, we will include that in an update of our analysis.