The UK is expected to exceed their Kyoto targets. Their goal was a 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2010. The expected number is 23% below 1990 levels. Another goal is a 34% reduction of 1990 emissions by 2022. There is, of course, some questions as to which industries are included in those numbers. Even if some sectors are left out, the UK is clearly making progress – and their economy isn’t being destroyed because of it.
China is talking about a 15% renewable energy standard by 2020 as an official goal. Having set that goal, there is also talk that 20% would be necessary and attainable – a sentiment with which I agree.
India wants 20,000MW of solar capacity by 2020, 100,000MW by 2030 and 200,000MW by 2050. It’s a little confusing to see capacity increase by 80,000MW in 10 years (2020 to 2030), but then only an additional 100,000MW in 20 years. In any event, barring major economic or physical disasters, these goals are laudable and will almost certainly be raised once the price of deployment for PV drops.
Scotland has passed legislation that sets a more ambitious goal than the UK: 42% below 1990 levels by 2020! Thus, Scotland has passed, to date, the most ambitious climate pollution bill in the world. Given the fact the Scotland, the UK and the European Union are at a minimum near to achieving their Kyoto Protocol targets, the 2020 and 2050 targets should be within reach.
So how about the U.S., supposedly the most technologically advanced and entrepreneurial country in the world? As passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, our climate bill (still a long way from full Congressional approval) is setting a carbon emissions goal of 17% reduction of 2005 levels by 2020! This would be equivalent to a 4% reduction of 1990 levels – a big deficit to the UK’s ~34% or Scotland’s 42% by the same date. That’s one important reason to pay attention to the baseline year!!! ACESA also includes a renewable electricity standard (not a renewable energy standard – another important difference) of 20% by 2020. China’s 15% renewable energy standard goes further – a goal that I already mentioned the Chinese will likely surpass.
How do the policy numbers compare to the science numbers? The IPCC says that in order to keep global average temperature rise below 2°C we need to make emission reductions from 1990 levels of 25-40% by 2020. If ACESA passes Congress with the weak targets currently in place, I hope we cut our emissions more than what the legislation demands. The state of our planet depends upon it.