On 29 April 2013 the Australian governments' Climate Commission released a report entitled The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change.
The report shows that the world's two largest economies, those of China and the United States, which together produce around 37% of global emissions, are both on track to meet their international commitments to tackle climate change. The two countries have just reached an agreement to co-operate on this. While they can not solve the problem alone, they are acting as important drivers of change. Here are some of the other main findings of the report and a link to the full report:
- In 2012, China reduced the carbon intensity of its economy more than expected and almost halved its growth in electricity demand.
- China will begin introducing 7 emissions trading schemes this year covering a quarter of a billion people.
- In 2005-2012 China increased its wind power generating capacity by almost 50 times. Electricity generated by wind power rose 36% between 2011 and 2012.
- China's solar power capacity expanded by 75% in 2012 and will triple to over 21,000 megawatts by 2015.
- China remains the worlds largest emitter but may curb its emissions sooner than expected.
- The US is on track to meet the national goal of reducing emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
- More than half of all states in the US have policies to encourage renewable energy.
- In 2008-2012 the US nearly doubled its installed renewable energy capacity.
- US investment in renewable energy was USD35.6 billion in 2012, second only to China.
- 98 countries have commited to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
- Emissions trading schemes are now operating in 35 countries and 13 states, provinces and cities. These 48 schemes, together with 7 Chinese schemes, are expected to involve 880 million people and about 20% of global emissions.
- Global renewable energy capacity rose 12% in 2012, as the capacity of solar photovoltaic panels increased by 42% and wind capacity 12%. Total global renewable energy capacity is expected to increase more than 40% from 2011 to 2017.
- Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change and the 15th largest emitter.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in Australia in June-December 2012 were the lowest since 2001-2002.
- Australia's renewable energy capacity almost doubled in 2001-2012. In 2013, the number of households with installed photovoltaic panels reached 1 million.
- While significant progress is being made, it is not enough. Global emissions are continuing to rise strongly. This decade is critical in setting a foundation for reducing emissions to nearly zero by 2050.
You can download the full report here.