In the framework of the UNFCCC,1 many governments have put proposals on the table about how much they intend to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions in both the near and the long term.
The aim of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) project is to provide interested readers with an up-to-date assessment of the individual reduction targets and with an overview of their combined effects. The intention is to make these pledges transparent and to encourage those governments that have not yet done so to make (or increase) their pledge. In addition, we assess whether countries are, with currently implemented policies, on track to meet their pledges.
A crucial question we answer is whether the combined effect of the individual national pledges is sufficient to ensure that global emissions are on a pathway towards staying below the 2°C limit. In addition, based on a wide range of effort-sharing principles, we rate each individual country’s pledge against the range of emission levels they should aim for in the framework of a 2°C global pathway.
Mandatory emission reduction targets for many of the world’s leading economies were agreed for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 2008 to 2012. In a second commitment period, running from 2013 to 2020, a much smaller number of countries have taken on additional commitments. Under the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are not required to reduce emissions.
Under the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancun Agreements, many developed and developing countries have communicated pledges for 2020. Further, countries are currently preparing post-2020 mitigation commitments as part of the new global climate agreement to be decided on in 2015.
Individual countries’ pledges for 2020 are subject to changes and are not always clearly communicated. They usually consist of an emission reduction goal that can be achieved, either through domestic reductions or through offsets. This reduction target can be expressed in a variety of ways, as an absolute reduction below a base year, as a reduction below a baseline, reductions of emissions intensity or as individual projects or programmes (e.g. Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs)).
2020 pledges are sometimes also differentiated into "unilateral" or “unconditional” actions based on countries’ own initiatives independently on actions of others, and "conditional" actions that could be implemented if financing were available or if an international agreement were in place.
1 The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, has been ratified by 192 of its member countries.