Last updated: 3 december, 2009 - 16:51 GMT

Where countries stand on Copenhagen

The Copenhagen conference is intended to agree a new international framework for controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But there have been deep divisions between some of the key participants. Find out where the G20 countries stand on halting climate change.

CanadaUnited KingdomGermanyRussiaFranceItalyJapanTurkeyChinaUnited States of AmericaSaudia ArabiaMexicoBrazilIndiaSouth KoreaArgentinaSouth AfricaIndonesiaAustralia
2007 CO2 emissions of G20 countries (from energy sector)
Country Million t CO2 CO2t/p.c. World Ranking#
United States600719.92
Japan1,262 9.95
South Korea51610.69
South Africa4529.414
Saudi Arabia43415.815
Source: EIA
Metric tonnes of CO2
World ranking by total carbon emissions only.
*EIA ranks by country only.
EIA data: World emissions since 1989, by country.
International Energy Statistics


  • Set a "binding goal" to cut CO2 per unit of GDP by 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2020
  • Wants rich countries to reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 level by 2020
  • Says they should pay 1% of their GDP per year to help other countries adapt
  • Wants West to provide low-carbon technology

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United States

  • Will cut emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 pending congressional approval - this is close to 4% below 1990 levels
  • Against Kyoto-style treaty imposing international legal obligations
  • Insists China, India, South Africa and Brazil must commit to slow growth of emissions
  • Climate bill is currently bogged down in Senate

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  • Has unofficially pledged to cut its emissions by 20 to 25% by 2020 compared to 1990 level
  • Economic collapse in 1990s means it can increase emissions by a third over 2005 levels and still meet that goal

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  • Agrees to limit growth of GHG emissions but will not commit to binding targets
  • Says rich countries are to blame for climate change and points to big gap in per capita emissions
  • Wants deep cuts in rich country emissions, firm funding pledges and technology transfer
  • Keen on preserving Kyoto-style legal obligations for developing countries

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  • Will cut emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, if other countries show similar ambition
  • This amounts to a cut of 30% in 10 years, and is opposed by industry
  • "Hatoyama initiative" will increase financial and technical assistance to developing countries
  • Backs proposals in which each country would set its own commitments

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  • Germany has promised to cut the country's greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% before 2020, or double the amount pledged by the EU as a whole
  • The so-called “eight-point plan” aims to go beyond the EU’s promise of 20% emission cuts by 2020
  • The plan proposes eight measures, from modernising power stations to increasing the share of renewables in electricity production by 27%

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  • After of 10 years of dragging its feet on emission cuts, the government has laid out plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% on 2006 levels – the equivalent to a 3% cut on 1990 levels
  • The target has been criticised and is widely regarded as inadequate

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  • In 2008, the Climate Change Act passed into law, putting a legal imperative on the government to cut emissions by 80% of their 1990 levels by 2050, with a mid-term target of 34% cuts by 2020
  • Some argue that the targets are unrealistic and would not be met until 2100
  • According to The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, even if the UK managed to cut the demand for energy by 50%, it would still require an extra 16 nuclear power stations and 27,000 wind turbines by 2030 to be sure of hitting the target

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South Korea

  • Pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 4% by 2020, representing a reduction of 30% from its projected figure - and would be enforced even if countries fail to agree an international deal on emissions in Copenhagen
  • But industrial bosses have warned that the government has been moving too fast on emissions for a country still classed as a developing country
  • Committed to investing 2% of GDP a year to green technologies

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  • Has been seen as one of the EU’s worst performers when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions
  • Between 2001 and 2006 emissions grew rapidly relative to GDP
  • According to the European Commission’s annual report in 2007, Italy’s emissions topped 550 million tons of carbon dioxide, 7% more than in 1990

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  • In the final stages of debating legislation that would reduce emissions by 5 to 15% below 2000 levels by 2020
  • The government is pushing to get the measures through the Senate. But they have been blocked by the opposition party

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  • Set a voluntary target for GHG emission reductions: 50% cut by 2050 from 2002 levels
  • It is also a strong proponent of a global ‘Green Fund’, which would receive money from all but the poorest countries to finance green projects
  • It plans a domestic cap-and-trade system by 2012, possibly linked to a US system, to reduce emissions particularly from cement production and oil refining

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South Africa

  • Bucking the tide of many developing nations, South Africa has chosen to set a voluntary limit on its greenhouse-gasemissions and to increase its use of renewable energy sources
  • Has acknowledged that emissions need to be reduced by 30% by 2050
  • South Africa expects legally binding carbon emission reduction targets to emerge from Copenhagen. But it expects developed countries to do more if they want to see commitment from developing countries

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Saudi Arabia

  • Widely criticised for resisting curbs on emissions
  • Along with Opec, Saudi Arabia is seeking financial compensation for oil-producers if new agreement requires cuts of fossil fuels
  • Keen on a deal that would advance use of carbon capture and storage
  • In 2007 Opec members pledged $750m to fund climate change research

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  • Plans a new carbon tax, which will be introduced next year and will cover the use of oil, gas and coal
  • It will be phased in gradually and will apply to households and businesses - but not to the heavy industries and power firms included in the EU's emissions trading scheme
  • French voters say they are opposed to the new levy, fearing they will struggle to pay higher bills

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  • Has historically adopted a position, along with China and India, of saying developed countries should be the ones to make deep emission cuts first
  • However, President Lula recently announced Brazil would be willing to cuts its own emissions by at least 36% from its projected 2020 figure. He says a large part of this would come from a reduction in deforestation by 80% by 2020, and the switch to charcoal rather than coal
  • Brazil is a major voice in the negotiations over REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), and argues in favour of public money from governments rather than private carbon markets

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  • Has set itself the target of reducing carbon emissions by 26% from their level in 2005 by 2020
  • Says its carbon emissions could be slashed by reducing deforestation, peat-land degradation and power use
  • The National Climate Change Council estimates that reducing Indonesia's emissions by 40% will cost around $32bn, with most of the funding for proposed cuts to come from developed countries

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  • Did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol until February 2009
  • As a latecomer to the party, critics say that Turkey missed the financial benefits that are part of the Kyoto Protocol

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  • Part of the G-77 negotiating group, it is critical of industrialised countries’ reluctance to accept deep cuts in emissions and transfer appropriate technology
  • The government has not announced what measures Argentina would adopt domestically to adapt to the impacts of global warming

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  • Aspires to play "leading role" at Copenhagen
  • Will cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30% if other big emitters take tough action
  • Wants rich nations to make 80-95% cut by 2050
  • Wants poorer nations to slow emissions growth
  • EU says it will pay $7bn-22bn to help developing countries face the cost of adaptation – estimated to be $150bn per year by 2020

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The Climate Connection

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