Asian Pacific Countries Backslide On Emissions Cuts Pledge


Photo via Reuters

With about month left until the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Asian Pacific countries gathering in Singapore this weekend are backing off their pledge to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2050. Their new language reads: "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050, recognizing that the timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing economies."

The conference, known as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, is meeting to work on trade issues so their climate statement comes as somewhat of a surprise. APEC includes the top two greenhouse gas emitters -- China and the United States--so it backslide is is a bad sign for the climate talks next month.

Meanwhile, Brazil has announced a pledge to take its emissions back to 1990s levels by 2020 -- a cut of 20 percent from current levels. The move is seen as encouraging because developing countries like Brazil have been hesitant to commit to binding targets for emissions reductions. Brazil, if it achieves zero deforestation, can meet its goal and then some.

But the APEC announcement carries more weight as it is from 21 members that account for almost 60 percent of greenhouse gases.

From Reuters:

Yi Xianliang, counsellor at the department of treaty and law at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is negotiating in the climate talks, said the target of a 50 percent global cut in the original draft APEC statement was "very controversial."

This "might have disrupted negotiations," Yi told a news conference, adding the decision to remove the target was a collective decision.

APEC member South Korea gave the U.N. climate talks a small boost by opting for the toughest of three voluntary emission targets, choosing minus four percent from 2005 levels by 2020, a government source told Reuters in Singapore.

The United States and Japan agreed on Friday they would aim to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and back a global goal to halve emissions by mid-century.

More on COP15:
Why a strong COp15 agreement doesn't matter
On the way to COP15: Battling an uneven playing field