Targets-ever to be reached?

A new analysis from the Carbon Disclosure Project reports that top companies in the U.S. will fail to meet President Barack Obama‘s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 17 % compared to a 2005 baseline by 2020. This proposal was made in the run-up to the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

In fact, companies on Standard and Poor‘s 100 index will actually see an increase in absolute emissions if current trends persist. Compared with the reductions recommended by the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) the gap between current emissions trends and required emissions cuts is even greater. The IPPC proposes an 80 % decline in emissions by 2050 in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“These trends identified by Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) show business needs to take more active measures to reduce emissions, especially as the economy improves we can expect to see more significant increase in emissions,” said Paul Dickinson, chief executive of the Carbon Disclosure Project.co2.gif

Mr. Dickinson calculates that reaching President Obama’s goals for 2020 would require average reductions at a rate of 1.05%; the goals set up by the IPPC require an even higher annual average decline of 3.9%. Instead, most sectors have actually increased their absolute emissions.

Over 90% of GHG emissions are generated by four sectors- utilities, energy, materials and industrials-with utilities responsible for the largest share at 37%. Second comes the energy sector which produced 34% of emissions, but this sector was able to improve their performance by 1.01%.

Between them, it is estimated that S&P 100 companies will in increase their absolute emissions by 3.66% compared to 2009 levels by 2020. This is the conclusion conducted through evaluations of 51% of S&P 100 companies that actually provided sufficient data.

“This shows that, the absolute emissions reductions we are seeing across industry are generally not sufficient to deliver on U.S. targets, particularly within the high intensity Utilities and Industrials sectors, which are experiencing emissions growth and are responsible for nearly half of S&P 100 reported emissions,” CDP said in the report.factory.gif
As factors for this disappointing outlook the more accurate measurements of actual emissions has been named. On the other hand, the Energy Information Administration estimates that the global recession has reduced CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by up to 6,1%  in the U.S..

If the U.S. is serious about reaching the targets set out by President Obama, a much stronger commitment is needed. But to be fair, it has to be said that other states also do not seem to be on track either – especially in regard to the tighter targets called for by the IPPC. The problem is that time’s running out. Scientific facts are well established, and even if we manage to come close to the IPPC’s targets, some irreversible damage has been done already! Yet it appears that there always seems to be another summit, another target, another time frame. Really, there is not.

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