Beware Unfair Son of Kyoto Targets

G8 leaders agreed upon a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The agreement was subsequently rejected by countries of the developing world, principally India and China.

Negotiators for the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand need to be careful in the next round of climate agreement discussions. Each of these nations is experiencing strong population growth. Australia will grow 40% between 2005 and 2050, according to UN projections. The United States and Canada will each grow about one-third, while New Zealand will grow slightly less than 30%.

Any agreement that imposes an overall target, such as 50% below current emission rates will greatly disadvantage these nations. By comparison, Japan will lose 20% of its population, while the European Union will lose 2%.

Because of the higher growth rates, 50% national reduction from 2005 would thus translate into at least a 60% GHG emission reduction per capita in Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand, while requiring only a 40% reduction in Japan and 50% in the European Union.