Are countries currently on track to meet emissions targets Factsheet

Aug 10, 2015 - 12:30pm

Recently the government made claims that other countries aren’t meeting their emissions reductions targets. With the government about to announce its post-2020 emissions target, this Factsheet addresses those claims. Claims that others are not meeting emissions targets and/or not implementing additional policies to achieve future targets are incorrect.

Figure 1 outlines the current state of play for countries like Australia. It summarises whether nations have achieved their first set of targets under the Kyoto Protocol (2010 targets in shorthand) and how they are tracking towards their 2020 targets. This does not make judgement on the adequacy of these targets.

In summary:

  • All countries except Canada (which withdrew from Kyoto) and the USA (which never ratified Kyoto) will meet their first Kyoto targets. They will do this through a mix of domestic reductions and the purchase of international carbon credits. Note that in this context, Australia is yet to meet an emissions reduction target because its first Kyoto target allowed it to increase emissions.

  • Countries’ progress towards their 2020 targets is more mixed. Countries generally claim they will meet their 2020 targets. A country is only given a YES in the table below if this has been verified by independent assessments in country, or by international groups such as the UN Environment Programme, PBL in the Netherlands or Climate Action Tracker.

The 28 countries of the EU are expected to beat their target by a wide margin. Japan is on track not so much because of strong action, but because after the tsunami in 2011 it weakened its target to allow a net increase in emissions. The USA are currently not on track but are implementing domestic policies such as regulating coal-fired generation, cars and trucks to meet its targets. Australia and Norway are currently not in track, but because they are parties to the Kyoto Protocol they can theoretically choose to use international carbon credits to meet their targets in the future. Under all plausible scenarios Canada will not meet its current target with current policies.

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