Which Countries Are Acting On Climate Change?

In the lead up to the climate summit in Paris, nations are making promises to curb emissions.

Last Tuesday was the (non-binding, but encouraged) deadline for countries to file their individual strategies to combat global warming ahead of the global summit on climate change in Paris this November. Of the 32 countries submitting plans to the United Nations, most (28) are part of the European Union. The United States has pledged to slash emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025; last Tuesday, the White House outlined its plans to achieve that goal by halting construction on coal-fired power plants, reducing the number of methane leaks from the oil and gas industry, and encouraging automakers to increase fuel economy.

The goal of the summit in Paris is to find a way to keep the Earth’s temperature from climbing 2 degrees celsius (3.6 degrees fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial average. When it comes to this early “deadline” for how each nation will reduce, there are a number of notable omissions: Australia, Canada, Japan, and China—the world’s largest to contributor of greenhouse gases—all failed to file. (Per the agreement reached at the Lima climate talks last year, the March deadline was for only those countries “ready to do so.”)

The pledges are the first glimpse at what kind of deal might be hammered out officially at the end of the year. Here’s who’s already planning to take action:

The European Union: Latvia, the current president of the Council of European Union, filed a proposal pledging, on behalf of its 28 member states, an at least 40 percent domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Gabon: Gabon, one of two developing nations and the only African country to submit its plan to the UN, pledged a 50 percent reduction in carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions by 2025. (As a baseline, Gabon used a projected rate representing what emissions levels would be by 2025 if no controls were put in place.)

Mexico: Mexico, the other developing nation that submitted a proposal, promised to curb greenhouse gas emissions by at least 22 percent and black carbon by 51 percent, for an overall emissions reduction of 25 percent by 2030. Mexico said it could go further—reducing emissions by as much as 40 percent—if a global agreement could be reached that addressed, among other topics, the price of carbon.

Norway: Norway (an EU member) submitted its own document reiterating the promise of an at least 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Russia: Russia promised to limit anthropogenic greenhouse gases to 70 to 75 percent of 1990 levels, in other words, a 25 to 30 percent reduction. In its pledge, Russia emphasized the “global significance” of its boreal forests (it houses 70 percent of the world’s boreal forests) for mitigating climate change.

Switzerland: Switzerland, also a member of the European Union, went beyond that body’s goals, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2030. The Swiss anticipate they will reach a 35 percent reduction from 1990 levels as soon as 2025.

The United States: The United States pledged an emissions reduction of at least 26 percent of the country’s baseline 2005 level by 2025, and promised to make “best efforts” to reduce by 28 percent.


Stay abreast of Audubon

Get updates about our conservation work and how to help birds.