Handbook on Energy and Climate Change
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Handbook on Energy and Climate Change

Edited by Roger Fouquet

This timely Handbook reviews many key issues in the economics of energy and climate change, raising new questions and offering solutions that might help to minimize the threat of energy-induced climate change.
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Chapter 8: The contribution of energy efficiency towards meeting CO2 targets

Joanne Evans, Massimo Filippini and Lester C. Hunt


The Kyoto Protocol set an agenda for GHG emission reductions (relative to the 1990 emission levels) in participating countries between the years of 2008 and 2012. Despite emission reduction measures and strengthening political will internationally, global CO2 emissions reached their highest ever level in 20102 (IEA, 2010a), with an estimated 40 per cent of global emissions coming from OECD countries. Unsurprisingly non-OECD countries, led by China and India, saw much stronger increases in emissions as their economic growth accelerated. However, on a per capita basis, OECD countries collectively emitted 10 tonnes, compared with 5.8 tonnes for China, and 1.5 tonnes in India (IEA, 2010a). This emissions profile is informative as international discussions in Copenhagen (2009) and Cancun (2010) focused on countries contributing in line with ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ (Article 3 of the UNFCCC; United Nations, 1992) to 2020 economy-wide emissions reduction targets where developed countries should commit to emissions targets and countries party to Kyoto would strengthen their targets. Developing nations would ‘implement mitigation actions’ that are nationally appropriate to slow growth in emissions (UNFCCC, 2010). In 2011 in Durban, South Africa, the spirit of the negotiations changed and in conjunction with extending the life of the Kyoto Agreement by between five and eight years to at least 2017, the so-called Durban Platform deal (UNFCCC, 2011) commits the world to negotiating a new legally binding climate treaty by 2015 for implementation by 2020.

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