(Reuters) - Representatives of almost 200 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, on Monday for two weeks of U.N. talks on a package of measures to curb global warming that will stop short of a binding treaty.
The United Nations wants developed countries to clarify their promises for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, saying they are too weak to reach a goal of limiting a rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times.
Many countries have offered wide ranges for action, dependent on what other nations do.
Following is an overview of a U.N. yardstick for curbs and national promises by major emitters of greenhouse gases:
The U.N. panel of climate scientists said in 2007 that cuts in rich nations’ emissions of 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 could limit warming to 2C. It said poor nations would have to slow their rising emissions, with a “substantial deviation” below projected growth by 2020.
TOP INDUSTRIALIZED EMITTERS (cuts from 1990 levels by 2020 unless stated):
UNITED STATES - 17 percent below 2005 levels, or 3 percent to 4 percent from 1990 levels. U.S. emissions have risen sharply since 1990. President Barack Obama made the pledge in Copenhagen but it was never approved by the Senate. His chances of legislating the cut have vanished with Republican gains in mid-term elections.
EU (27 nations) - A unilateral cut of 20 percent, or 30 percent if others act.
RUSSIA - 15 to 25 percent. That would mean a rise from current levels because emissions plunged with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its smokestack industries.
JAPAN - 25 percent as part of a “fair and effective international framework.” Japan has not spelt out a fallback position if there is no strong deal.
CANADA - 17 percent from 2005 levels, matching U.S. goal.
AUSTRALIA - 5 percent below 2000 levels, or 25 percent if there is an ambitious global deal. The range is 3 percent to 23 percent below 1990.
MAJOR DEVELOPING NATIONS’ ACTIONS FOR 2020:
CHINA - Aims to cut the amount of carbon produced per unit of economic output by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 levels. This “carbon intensity” goal would let emissions keep rising, but more slowly than economic growth.
INDIA - Aims to reduce the emissions intensity of gross domestic product by 20 percent to 25 percent from 2005 levels.
BRAZIL - Aims to cut emissions by between 36.1 and 38.9 percent below “business as usual” levels with measures such as reducing deforestation, energy efficiency and more hydropower.
SOUTH AFRICA - With the right international aid, South Africa says its emissions could peak between 2020-25, plateau for a decade and then decline in absolute terms from about 2035.
INDONESIA - Aims to reduce emissions by 26 percent by 2020 with measures including sustainable peat management, reduced deforestation and energy efficiency.
MEXICO - Aims to cut greenhouse gases by up to 30 percent below “business as usual.” A climate change program from 2009-12 will also avert 51 million tones of carbon emissions.
SOUTH KOREA - Aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below “business as usual” projections.