Reduction targets and abatement costs of developing countries resulting from global and developed countries’ reduction targets by 2050

  • Michel G. J. den ElzenEmail author
  • Angelica Mendoza Beltran
  • Andries F. Hof
  • Bas van Ruijven
  • Jasper van Vliet


The European Union (EU) has advocated an emission reduction target for developed countries of 80% to 95% below the 1990 level by 2050, and a global reduction target of 50%. Developing countries have resisted the inclusion of these targets in both the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Copenhagen Accord and Cancún Agreements. This paper analyses what these targets would imply for emission targets, abatement costs and energy consumption of developing countries, taking into account the conditional emission reduction pledges for 2020. An 80% reduction target for developed countries would imply more stringent per capita emission targets for developing countries than developed countries by 2050. Moreover, abatement costs of developing countries would be higher than those of developed countries. An 85% to 90% reduction target for developed countries would result in similar per capita emission targets and abatement costs for developed and developing countries by 2050. Total reduction targets for developing countries would range from 30% to 40% below 2005 levels by 2050 and from 30% to 35% above 2005 levels by 2030. The 2030 target for China would be 40% to 45% above 2005 levels, compared to a target for the EU of 45% to 50% below 1990 and for the United States of America (USA) 30% to 35% below 1990. Emission target trajectories for Brazil, South Africa and China would peak before 2025 and for India by around 2025. From the analysis, we may conclude that from the viewpoint of developing countries either developed countries increase their target above 85%, and/or make substantial side-payments.


Cancún agreements Climate change Copenhagen accord Developing countries Greenhouse gas emissions Long term targets Mitigation 



The project was financed by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. The contribution of AH has been supported by the RESPONSES project, co-funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme.


  1. Bouwman AF, Kram T, Klein Goldewijk K (2006) Integrated modelling of global environmental change. An overview of IMAGE 2.4, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven, The Netherlands,\image
  2. Clarke L, Edmonds J, Krey V, Richels R, Rose S, Tavoni M (2009) International climate policy architectures: overview of the EMF 22 international scenarios. Energ Econ 31:S64–S81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Council of the European Union (2009) Presidency conclusions, 15265/1/09. BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  4. den Elzen MGJ, Lucas P (2005) The FAIR model: a tool to analyse environmental and costs implications of climate regimes. Environ Model Assess 10:115–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. den Elzen MGJ, Höhne N (2008) Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in Annex I and non-Annex I countries for meeting concentration stabilisation targets. Clim Change 91:249–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. den Elzen MGJ, Lucas P, van Vuuren DP (2008) Regional abatement action and costs under allocation schemes for emission allowances for achieving low CO2-equivalent concentrations. Clim Change 90:243–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. den Elzen MGJ, Höhne N, Hagemann M, van Vliet J, Van Vuuren DP (2010) Sharing post 2012 developed countries’ greenhouse gas emission reductions based on comparable efforts. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 15:433–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. den Elzen MGJ, Hof AF, Mendoza Beltran A, Grassi G, Roelfsema M, van Ruijven BJ, van Vliet J, Van Vuuren DP (2011a) The Copenhagen accord: abatement costs and carbon prices resulting from the submissions. Environ Sci Policy 14:28–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. den Elzen MGJ, Hof AF, Roelfsema M (2011b) The emissions gap between the Copenhagen pledges and the 2°C climate goal: options for closing and risks that could widen the gap. Global Environ Change 21:733–743CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ding Z, Duan X, Ge Q, Zhang Z (2009) Control of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 2050: a calculation of emission rights of different countries. Adv Clim Change Res 5:17–42Google Scholar
  11. Edenhofer O, Knopf B, Barker T, Baumstark L, Bellevrat E, Chateau B, Criqui P, Isaac M, Kitous A, Kypreos S, Leimbach M, Lessmann K, Magné B, Scrieciu Š, Turton H, Van Vuuren DP (2010) The economics of low stabilization: model comparison of mitigation strategies and costs. Energ J 31:11–48Google Scholar
  12. European Commission (2010) Analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions and assessing the risk of carbon leakage. Brussels,
  13. G8 (2009) Responsible leadership for a sustainable future. G8 Summit 2009, L’AquilaGoogle Scholar
  14. Garnaut R (2008) The Garnaut climate change review. Melbourne, Australia,
  15. Gupta S, Tirpak DA, Burger N, Gupta J, Höhne N, Boncheva AI, Kanoan GM, Kolstad C, Kruger JA, Michaelowa A, Murase S, Pershing J, Saijo T, Sari A (2007) Policies, instruments and co-operative arrangements. In: Metz B, Davidson OR, Bosch PR, Dave R, Meyer LA (eds) Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  16. He J, Chen W, Teng F, Liu B (2009) Long-term climate change mitigation target and carbon permit allocation. Adv Clim Change Res 5:78–85Google Scholar
  17. Höhne N, den Elzen MGJ, Weiss M (2006) Common but differentiated convergence (CDC), a new conceptual approach to long-term climate policy. Clim Policy 6:181–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. IEA (2007) World energy outlook 2007. International Energy Agency, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. IEA (2011) World energy outlook 2011. International Energy Agency, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. IMF (2009) World economic outlook. Update. July 8, 2009. Contractionary forces receding but weak recovery ahead. International Monetary Fund, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  21. Ji Z (2010) China human development report 2009/10. China and a Sustainable Future: Towards a Low Carbon Economy and Society. China Translation and Publishing Corporation, Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  22. Lucas P, van Vuuren DP, Olivier JA, den Elzen MGJ (2007) Long-term reduction potential of non-CO2 greenhouse gases. Environ Sci Policy 10:85–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meinshausen M, Meinshausen N, Hare W, Raper SCB, Frieler K, Knutti R, Frame DJ, Allen M (2009) Greenhouse gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2°C. Nature 458:1158–1163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Metz B, Davidson OR, Bosch PR, Dave R, Meyer LM (2007) Climate Change 2007: Mitigation Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  25. Michaelowa A, Jotzo F (2005) Transaction costs, institutional rigidities and the size of the clean development mechanism. Energ Policy 33:511–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pan J, Phillips J, Chen Y (2008) China’s balance of emissions embodied in trade: approaches to measurement and allocating international responsibility. Oxf Rev Econ Pol 24:354–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shukla PR, Dhar S, Mahapatra D (2008) Low-carbon society scenarios for India. Clim Policy 8:S156–S176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tavoni M, Tol RSJ (2008) Counting only the hits? The risk of underestimating the costs of stringent climate policy. Clim Change 100:769–778CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. UN (2008) World Population Prospects: the 2008 revision. United Nations Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  30. UNEP (2011) UNEP bridging the gap report. In: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  31. UNFCCC (2010) Decision 1/CP.16, The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention in Report of the Conference of the Parties on its sixteenth session, held in Cancun from 29 November to 10 December 2010, Addendum, Part Two: Action taken by the Conference of the Parties at its sixteenth session, UNFCCC document FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1,
  32. van Ruijven B, van Vuuren DP, van Vliet J, Beltran AM, Deetman S, den Elzen MGJ (2012) Implications of greenhouse gas emission mitigation scenarios for the main Asian regions. Energ Econ (in press)Google Scholar
  33. van Vliet J, van den Berg M, Schaeffer M, van Vuuren DP, den Elzen MGJ, Hof AF, Beltran AM, Meinshausen M (2012) Copenhagen accord pledges imply higher costs for staying below 2°C warming. Clim Change, submittedGoogle Scholar
  34. van Vuuren DP, Riahi K (2011) The relationship between short-term emissions and long-term concentration targets. Clim Change 104:793–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. van Vuuren DP, Hoogwijk M, Barker T, Riahi K, Boeters S, Chateau J, Scrieciu S, van Vliet J, Masui T, Blok K, Blomen E, Kram T (2009) Comparison of top-down and bottom-up estimates of sectoral and regional greenhouse gas emission reduction potentials. Energ Policy 37:5125–5139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. van Vuuren DP, Isaac M, den Elzen MGJ, Stehfest E, van Vliet J (2010a) Low stabilization scenarios and implications for major world regions from an integrated assessment perspective. Energ J. 31 (Special Issue), 165–192.Google Scholar
  37. van Vuuren DP, Stehfest E, den Elzen MGJ, van Vliet J, Isaac M (2010b) Exploring IMAGE model scenarios that keep greenhouse gas radiative forcing below 3W/m2 in 2100. Energ Econ 32:1105–1120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Winkler H, Hughes A, Marquard A, Haw M, Merven B (2011) South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions under business-as-usual: the technical basis of ‘Growth without constraints’ in the long-term mitigation scenarios’. Energ Policy 39:5818–5828CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michel G. J. den Elzen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angelica Mendoza Beltran
    • 1
  • Andries F. Hof
    • 1
  • Bas van Ruijven
    • 1
  • Jasper van Vliet
    • 1
  1. 1.PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment AgencyBilthovenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations