Carbon Around the World: UK to Set Binding Targets, China, Canada May Do So

by | Apr 20, 2009

globe2Just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made official its “endangerment” ruling, calling greenhouse gases a pollutant that causes global warming, the momentum for change is picking up in places worlds apart.

The United Kingdom is set to include in its next government budget a set of binding carbon emissions targets, according to BBC News.

And in a move that has great implications for the next round of climate negotiations, China is considering its own carbon targets, according to the Guardian.

And in Canada, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said that Canada faces possibly ruinous trade retaliation from the United States if it does no respond in kind to a U.S. cap-and-trade program, according to the New York Times. To set Canadian GHG targets for 2020 and 2050, the group released the report “Achieving 2050: A Carbon Pricing Policy for Canada.”

If the UK goes forward with its plan to reduce carbon emissions, it would be the first binding program put into place by a government. The plan would establish carbon budgets that would run for five-year periods up to 2022, at which point the UK aims to have cut emissions by 34-42 percent, according to BBC News.

More details of the UK plans will be revealed this summer. It’s estimated the carbon budget will add 100 British Pounds to every family’s annual energy expenditures.

In China, Su Wei, who serves on the nation’s climate change negotiating team, said China may introduce a national target that to limit emissions relative to economic growth in the country’s next five-year plan, starting in  2011.

“It is an option. We can very easily translate our [existing] energy reduction targets to carbon dioxide limitation” Su told the Guardian. “China hasn’t reached the stage where we can reduce overall emissions, but we can reduce energy intensity and carbon intensity.”

Another Chinese diplomat was more conservative, saying the carbon budgets may start in 2020.

The worldwide economy may have other plans for China and other Asian nations, however.

Facing a slump in sales of solar and other renewables, many Asia-Pacific nations are adding incentives to boost demand, according to Reuters.

Australia, China, Japan and South Korea are among nations that are considering ways to encourage renewable energy projects.

In an estimate from HSBC, sustainability-oriented stimulus spending, such as railways used as alternatives to carbon-intensive air transport and energy-efficient power grids, may account for 20 percent of all Asian stimulus spending. At $272 billion, the Reuters article states that is more than double the amount earmarked for green projects in North-, Central-, and South America combined, and more than five times what Europe has on tap.

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