Photo via G8
This week saw the G8 nations pledge to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050--meaning that the world's biggest, richest countries (the US, UK, Germany, France, etc) have all set some pretty tough climate targets. In theory, at least. Actions, of course, speak louder than words. So let's take a look at those actions--here are the actual, current climate targets of the biggest economies in the world.USA's Dubious Climate Targets
Let's kick things off with the good ol' USA--currently, all we've got to show for ourselves is the recently passed Waxman-Markey bill, which sets out to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020. Oh yeah, and that's from 2005 levels. The widely accepted international standard is reductions from 1990 levels--take that into account, and we're on the books for a measly 4% reduction by 2020.
The European Union's Climate Commitment
Better is the EU--the union of European nations has agreed to cut emissions 20% across the board by 2020--from 1990 levels. According to the BBC, the EU would toughen up its reduction target to 30% if there was international consensus.
Australia's Flagging Emission Reduction Plangs
Australia started strong out the gate, but has faltered in recent years, due to trouble with its massively powerful coal industry. Remind you of any other country 'round this here globe. From the BBC: "The Australian government says it will cut emissions by 5 - 25% by 2020 compared to 2000 levels depending on what other countries agree, and by 60% by 2050." They've also got a cap and trade system in the works, but its passage is looking grimmer and grimmer.
Japan's Newish Climate Goals
Japan has set goals that amount to 9% reductions by 2020--they're using the same trick the US is, and calling publicly for 15% reductions, but only from 2005 levels. And since those were 6% higher than the 1990 levels, it's a bit less of a commitment.
The Maldives' Carbon Neutral Commitment
Okay, so the Maldives are by no means one of the biggest economies in the world. But I've included them here to demonstrate a sterling commitment to emissions reductions--the Maldives is attempting to become the first carbon neutral state. Sure, it's a tiny nation with a small population--and it could be underwater soon, thanks to climate change caused by the rich countries now pledging to cut emissions in the single digits over the course of ten years. But commitment and dedication like this needs to be noted by rich nations that are dropping the ball.
China, India, and Brazil - Climate Targets Still Developing
The developing nations have so far refused to set any emissions reduction targets, and for pretty good reason. Though India has repeatedly said that it'd be willing to do so if rich nations would agree to cut emissions by 25-40% by 2020. China, while surging ahead with clean energy projects like massive wind farms, hasn't set any concrete climate targets. It's got a pretty solid renewable energy standard, however. Brazil hasn't set any targets either--but all three have agreed to set greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2050 by December, when nations around the world gather in Copenhagen to draft the predecessor to the Kyoto Protocol.