Here’s What Major Nations Pledged at the Climate Summit

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: People protest for greater action against climate change during the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York City. The march, which calls for drastic political and economic changes to slow global warming, has been organized by a coalition of unions, activists, politicians and scientists. 
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.

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.