By Mathew Carr
EXCLUSIVE: Dec. 9-10, 2020 — LONDON: Britain has tightened its emissions-reduction target for 2030 quite dramatically, but arguably it should be much tighter still.
This chart shows that based on historical responsibility and its capability, Britain should be going for a cut of about 91% by 2030 if the world is serious about limiting global warming to 1.5C. That is one-third stricter than what it is going for — a 68% cut:
Check out the small green line on the top right. Here is the open source document, cited in the chart:
The ‘Greenhouse Development Rights’ (GDR) approach reflects the ‘responsibility-capability-need’, and allocates emissions shares based on the historical and projected business-as-usual emissions, the population and the wealth distribution of each country. Note it’s from 2016 and somewhat out of date.
When the U.K. government advisor the Climate Change Committee advised for a 68% emissions reduction target for 2030 vs 1990 levels, that was for domestic emissions. It stated it would be open for the U.K. to adopt a tighter targets and use international emission credits to meet that element.
It didn’t suggest an upper range because climate negotiations are continuing at the UN level through November, when envoys are planning to meet in Glasgow.
“Those metrics are so judgemental, it’s very hard to pick what’s the correct way to fight fair across an international problem,” said Mike Thompson, chief economist at the CCC, by phone. “It’s not as simple as taking a view as to what do we think is fair. It’s going to be tied up in negotiations. We haven’t tried to second guess any of that, I’m afraid.
“We recognize there are legitimate arguments out there than say the U.K. should be going further than this,” Thompson said.
“We decided our job here is to say, what should the U.K. be doing, what’s the right path for us on our emissions? And the way to go further is not to try and tighten your own belt even tighter, but to help others with with their reductions. And one of the ways you might do that would be by buying credits. But we’re also really conscious once you’re into that space, but (it) isn’t necessarily what other countries want to do, actually.
“A lot of the time, they would rather have some technological support, they’d rather have some finance provided, and be able to actually cut the emissions and claim them themselves — but with some help to get there.
“We thought about it, we asked ourselves this question, should we have a number which is where we should go including Paris credits, but actually, we decided that in looking at the problem, and trying to solve it practically, that isn’t a sensible way into it. It’s much better to say do what you need to do at home and do what is the most effective and most helpful internationally. And we’re not best placed to say what that looks like.”
With the likes of the U.K., Germany and China dramatically cutting renewable energy and clean-tech costs, that’s somewhat of a gift to the world that will allow a cleaner path forward for every country.
“So our vision really I guess is that developed countries like the U.K, they walk the talk, the follow the path, they get to net zero and they do it quickly. And in doing so they develop the technologies that can be adopted elsewhere,” Thompson said.
So, a top-down argument indicated by the small green line above does not necessarily take into account the technology already paid for and developed by countries that are most to blame for the climate crisis.
Those most to blame can pass on use of the technology AND help finance use of it in emerging nations, according to some seasoned climate fighters. That could include climate finance, Article 6 of Paris or the Green Climate Fund.
Yvo de Boer, former UNFCCC executive secretary, says richer countries should consider emission cuts of about 75% by 2030 versus 1990 levels — including some finance to help emerging nations.
(Smoothed on the 10th)