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This blog forms part of a series addressing some of the criticisms often levelled against efforts to mitigate climate change.
The Twentieth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) – the latest in a series of meetings of the decision making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change –began in Lima this week. Many in the media are quick to point to the difficulty of obtaining international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and to denounce COP 15, which took place in Copenhagen in 2009, as a failure.
The United Nations Climate Summit 2014, to be held in New York on 23rd September, comes at an important point in the calendar for discussions on how to address climate change. Next year will see nations submit pledges on their future greenhouse gas emissions levels, as part of the United Nations process culminating in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris at the end of 2015, the ambition of which is to secure a global agreement to tackle climate change.
There is now a rich body of evidence on the implications of mitigation at the global, regional and national levels.
By Ajay Gambhir
A fortnight ago a journalist at New Scientist asked me if I’d seen the latest report by the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency (PBL) and Joint Research Centre (JRC) on last year’s global CO2 emissions figures. He wanted some quick reactions on analysis that showed China’s emissions per unit of economic output (its “emissions intensity”) had declined by over 4% in 2012, compared to 2011 levels. The following analysis is based on my response.
In absolute terms, China’s emissions actually increased by about 3% in 2012, according to the PBL/JRC analysis. But its GDP increased by almost 8% over the course of 2012, so a 3% increase in emissions means between a 4 and 5% decrease in CO2 emissions intensity.