Here’s What Major Nations Pledged at the Climate Summit

National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Clare Foran
Sept. 23, 2014, 7:38 a.m.

World lead­ers un­veiled a slate of com­mit­ments on Tues­day to ad­dress cli­mate change at the United Na­tions Cli­mate Sum­mit.

The sum­mit, held in New York City, was con­vened by the U.N. to lay the ground­work for na­tions to sign a glob­al emis­sions treaty next year dur­ing cli­mate ne­go­ti­ations in Par­is. It is un­clear what kind of deal will come to­geth­er at the 2015 talks, but en­vir­on­ment­al act­iv­ists watched Tues­day’s sum­mit closely for signs of what’s to come.

In speeches at the sum­mit, dip­lo­mats from 120 coun­tries laid out a series of non­bind­ing cli­mate com­mit­ments. Some of the prom­ises were new. In many cases, however, world lead­ers took to the po­di­um to re­it­er­ate ex­ist­ing com­mit­ments. Here is an over­view of what they pledged:


Pres­id­ent Obama de­livered an ad­dress at the sum­mit this af­ter­noon where he an­nounced an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der re­quir­ing fed­er­al agen­cies to take cli­mate change in­to ac­count when dol­ing out dol­lars for in­ter­na­tion­al aid and in­vest­ment abroad.

Obama also an­nounced a set of tools that draw on do­mest­ic sci­entif­ic and tech­no­lo­gic­al know-how to help vul­ner­able com­munit­ies in oth­er na­tions boost re­si­li­ence to glob­al warm­ing.

U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry said dur­ing the sum­mit that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will give the World Bank $15 mil­lion to help fin­ance a pro­gram aimed at rein­ing in meth­ane pol­lu­tion.

The U.S. has pre­vi­ously pledged to curb emis­sions 17 per­cent from 2005 levels by 2020.


The E.U. un­veiled a new com­mit­ment to slash green­house-gas emis­sions 40 per­cent from 1990 levels by 2030, a pro­pos­al that sets the bloc apart from most at­tendees at the sum­mit by out­lining an emis­sions tar­get that ex­tends bey­ond 2020.

European Com­mis­sion Pres­id­ent Jose Manuel Bar­roso said E.U. mem­ber na­tions will achieve that goal by re­ly­ing on clean en­ergy for 27 per­cent of their power and im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency by 30 per­cent.

Bar­roso said the bloc has a long-term am­bi­tion of cut­ting emis­sions by 80 to 95 per­cent by 2050. Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­mis­sion pres­id­ent an­nounced that the E.U. aims to spend 20 per­cent of its budget for 2014 to 2020 on ef­forts to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing.

The E.U. in­tends to hand out 3 bil­lion euros, or roughly $3.9 bil­lion dol­lars, to help de­vel­op­ing na­tions cut emis­sions over the next sev­en years.


Brit­ish Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on said that the U.K. is on track to cut emis­sions by 80 per­cent by 2050. Camer­on did not, however, an­nounce any new tar­gets not already agreed to by the coun­try.

Camer­on also said that the U.K. would set aside nearly 4 bil­lion pounds, or $6.5 bil­lion, to boost in­ter­na­tion­al cli­mate change ac­tion.


Chinese Vice Premi­er Zhang Gaoli re­peated China’s pre­vi­ously stated goal of cut­ting car­bon emis­sions by 40 to 45 per­cent from 2005 levels by 2020. Gaoli did not an­nounce any new emis­sions tar­gets. The vice premi­er also an­nounced that China will set aside $6 mil­lion for U.N. ef­forts to boost South-South coper­a­tion to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing.


French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande an­nounced that France will set aside 750 mil­lion euros, or ap­prox­im­ately $1 bil­lion, for the Green Cli­mate Fund, a pot of money in­ten­ded to help de­vel­op­ing coun­tries rein in air pol­lu­tion.


Canada’s en­vir­on­ment min­is­ter, Le­ona Aglukkaq, an­nounced a series of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions aimed at curb­ing green­house emis­sions from cars and trucks, in­clud­ing stricter fuel-ef­fi­ciency re­quire­ments for cars and heavy-duty vehicles.


Ja­pan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe shied away from mak­ing form­al com­mit­ments dur­ing the sum­mit, say­ing that Ja­pan will an­nounce tar­gets for next year’s Par­is cli­mate talks “as soon as pos­sible.”

Abe also said that Ja­pan is con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a dona­tion to help de­vel­op­ing na­tions take ac­tion to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing.


Dor­is Leuthard, the pres­id­ent of Switzer­land, said the coun­try is con­sid­er­ing a pledge of $100 mil­lion to the Green Cli­mate Fund.


Swedish Prime Min­is­ter Fre­drik Re­in­feldt said that the coun­try will cut emis­sions 40 per­cent from 1990 levels by 2020. The coun­try aims to pro­duce zero net emis­sions by 2050.


The Prime Min­is­ter of Den­mark, Helle Thorn­ing-Schmidt made a fresh com­mit­ment for Den­mark to donate $70 mil­lion to the Green Cli­mate Fund. Thron­ing-Schmidt also said that Den­mark’s goal is to rid it­self of fossil fuels by 2050.


Ire­land’s Prime Min­is­ter Enda Kenny said the coun­try will cut green­house gases by 80 per­cent by 2050.


Ice­land said that it aims to power its eco­nomy en­tirely with clean en­ergy, but did not set a date or provide a timeline for achiev­ing this goal.


Korean Pres­id­ent Park Geun-hye said at the sum­mit that South Korea will donate $100 mil­lion to the Green Cli­mate Fund to aid ef­forts to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing. Geun-hye also said that South Korea is on track to be­come the first Asi­an coun­try to launch a car­bon trad­ing scheme, an ini­ti­at­ive that is set to launch next year.


Najib Razak, the pres­id­ent of Malay­sia, said that the coun­try plans to cut emis­sions 40 per­cent by 2020.


In­done­sia is on track to slash green­house gas emis­sions by 26 per­cent by 2020.


Ethiopi­an Pres­id­ent Mu­latu Te­shame said that his coun­try aims to achieve net zero emis­sions by 2025.


Geor­gia has set a goal of be­com­ing car­bon neut­ral by 2050. Geor­gi­an pres­id­ent Iraki Gari­bashvili said that the coun­try aims to be­come a “hy­dro-power gi­ant.”


Mex­ico an­nounced that it aims to gen­er­ate more than one third of its elec­tri­city from zero-emis­sions sources by 2018. Mex­ic­an pres­id­ent En­rique Pena Ni­eto also an­nounced that the coun­try will con­trib­ute $10 mil­lion to the Green Cli­mate Fund.


Chilean Pres­id­ent Michelle Bachelet said that the coun­try will gen­er­ate 45 per­cent of its en­ergy from re­new­ables by 2025.


Costa Ric­an Pres­id­ent Lu­is Guillermo Sol­is said that the coun­try will be powered purely from clean en­ergy by 2016.


Nicaragua said that it will aim to gen­er­ate 90 per­cent of its elec­tri­city through re­new­ables by 2020.


Prince Al­bert of Monaco said that the prin­cip­al­ity has es­tab­lished a tar­get of cut­ting car­bon emis­sions 80 per­cent by 2050.


The is­land na­tion of St. Lu­cia has com­mit­ted to de­riv­ing 35 per­cent of its elec­tri­city from clean en­ergy by 2020


Fre­un­del Stu­art, the prime min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos, said that the coun­try will source 29 per­cent of its elec­tri­city from re­new­ables by 2029.


The sul­tan of Brunei made a com­mit­ment that his coun­try would make a 63 per­cent re­duc­tion in total car­bon emis­sions by 2035. The sul­tan also said Brunei would source at least 10 per­cent of its total power gen­er­a­tion from re­new­ables by 2035.


The Poly­ne­sian is­land na­tion of Tu­valu has com­mited to 100 per­cent clean en­ergy by 2020.


  • The U.S. joined with the European Uni­on and Canada to pledge that by 2020 de­for­est­a­tion would be cut in half, with an end goal of elim­in­at­ing forest loss en­tirely by 2030. No­tice­ably ab­sent from the pledge was Brazil.
  • Nor­way an­nounced that it will provide Liber­ia with up to $150 mil­lion un­til 2020 in an ef­fort to curb de­for­est­a­tion in the coun­try.
  • A num­ber of na­tions, in­clud­ing the U.S., Mex­ico, Ni­ger­ia, Nor­way and Rus­sia an­nounced that they will part­ner with ma­jor oil and gas com­pan­ies, in­clud­ing Statoil, Pe­mex and South­west­ern En­ergy as well as cit­ies across the world on a new ini­ti­at­ive to cut emis­sions of meth­ane. “One of the planks in the strategy seeks to re­duce pol­lut­ants from mu­ni­cip­al sol­id waste and over 25 cit­ies com­mit­ted to carry out quan­ti­fi­able plans of ac­tion to cut them by 2020.”
  • The In­done­sian gov­ern­ment and the U.S. presided over the sign­ing of the In­done­sian Palm Oil Pledge, an agree­ment by the heads of ma­jor com­pan­ies, in­clud­ing Car­gill, and the In­done­sian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dustry to make palm oil har­vest­ing more sus­tain­able.