Policies in Key Countries

Data from International Energy Agency, CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion, IEA, 2014, with C2ES calculations. Per Capita GDP is calculated on a Power Purchasing Parity (PPP) basis.



Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.22 percent (Ranked 14th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 16.70 tons CO2 (370 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $37,720  (Ranked 10th)

Kyoto Reduction Target: 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2020
Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC): 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Australia’s main climate policy is currently the Emission Reductions Fund (ERF), where the government will purchase credits from projects that reduce emissions in the industrial and land sectors. The fund currently has AU$ 2.25 billion allocated from the Australian government. A regulator issues credits for each ton of emission reductions that a project produces, which can then be sold to the government through a reverse auction. The ERF is being integrated with the Carbon Farming Initiative, an existing offset mechanism for domestic agriculture projects.  

The Carbon Pricing Mechanism (CPM) was in operation until it was repealed in July 2014. It set a fixed carbon price of AU$ 23 per ton available at quarterly auctions, with plans to allow the price to float from 2015 onwards. The ERF serves as the replacement for the CPM.

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Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.39 percent (Ranked 11th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 2.22 tons CO2 (49 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $12,750 (Ranked 38th)

Copenhagen Pledge: Between 36.1 and 38.9 percent reduction by 2020 relative to business as usual (BAU)
INDC: 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, with an indicative target of 43 percent below 2005 levels by 2030

Brazil’s key policy is the National Climate Change Plan (PNMC), signed into law in December 2008. It contains a number of targets that focus on particular sectors. For example, land-use is the major sources of Brazil’s emissions, due to increased deforestation and the expansion of agriculture. The PNMC sets out specific targets, such as reductions in the annual deforestation rates, relative to the 1965-2005 average, in the Amazon and Bioma Cerrado rainforests of 80 percent and 40 percent, respectively. In June 2012, the Brazilian government followed up with national targets for the heavy industry, transportation, and mining sectors to reduce emissions by 2020 relative to business as usual by 5 percent, 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.



Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.68 percent (Ranked 8th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 15.02 tons CO2 (339% of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $37,020 (Ranked 11th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020
INDC: 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030

Many of Canada’s policies to combat climate change occur at the provincial level.  In Alberta, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation provides an intensity-based target for power and industrial facilities above 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. The law requires an annual intensity reduction of 2 percent, up to a maximum cumulative reduction of 12 percent. Alternatively, firms can contribute CAD 15 per ton to the Alberta Technology Fund, or purchasing either credits from other firms, or approved offset credits.

In July 2008, British Columbia introduced a carbon tax of CAD 25 per metric ton of CO2- equivalent on the purchase and use of fossil fuels within the province. It covers gasoline and other transportation fuels, natural gas, propane and coal. The government passed amendments increasing the tax rate to CAD 30 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent.  

Quebec has a provincial GHG reduction target of 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. A key measure to achieve that goal is an emissions trading system, which took effect in January 2013. It covers the power sector, and a broad range of industrial facilities. From 2015 onwards, the program expanded to include the supply of transportation fuels, including gasoline and natural gas. The program is linked to California’s cap-and-trade program, so that allowances and offsets accepted in one program can be used in the other to comply with their obligations. In April 2015, Ontario proposed a similar cap-and-trade system to reduce its provincial emissions.

At the federal level, the government is implementing national greenhouse gas emissions standards across different sectors. Vehicle standards for cars, trucks, and heavy duty vehicles are aligned with those in the United States. Regulations on new coal fired power plants, which set a performance standard of 420 tons of CO2 per gigawatt hour, commenced on July 1, 2015.

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Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 25.86 percent (Ranked 1st)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 6.08 tons CO2 (135 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $9,600 (Ranked 52nd)

Copenhagen Pledge: Carbon intensity reduction of 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020
INDC: Emissions to peak no later than 2030, and carbon intensity reduction of 60-65 percent below 2005 levels by 2030

China’s twelfth five-year plan (FYP), covering 2011-15, spelled out a number of reforms to domestic energy and climate policies. The headline targets were to reduce energy intensity by an additional 16 percent, and carbon intensity by 17 percent, by 2015. It has been widely reported that China is currently on track to meet these 2015 targets.

Carbon trading is currently being piloted in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hubei, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Tianjin. Each has designed its own regulations and emissions exchanges to conduct carbon trading between participating companies. In July 2014, Chongqing became the seventh pilot to commence trading. In a joint statement with U.S. President Barack Obama on September 25, 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China's plan to establish a national carbon trading program in 2017.

China’s government set goals to increase renewable energy’s share of primary energy to 11.5 percent by 2015, and then 15 percent by 2020. This includes technology specific goals – for example, to increase hydroelectric power capacity from 230 GW in 2011 to 330 GW in 2017. Under the Renewable Energy Law the government put forward market incentives, government subsidies and other policies to help meet these targets. China has announced an updated target of 20 percent non-fossil energy (including nuclear power) by 2030. To improve energy efficiency, the government requires utilities to achieve 0.3 percent electricity savings per year, in addition to efficiency standards for buildings, household appliances and other products. New cars must also meet fuel efficiency standards, equivalent to approximately 47 miles per gallon.

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European Union (EU)

Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 11.04 percent (Ranked 3rd)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 6.91 tons CO2 (153 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $28,800 (Ranked 17th)

Kyoto Target: 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020
INDC: 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030

The centerpiece of the European Union’s climate policy is the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the world’s largest market for greenhouse gas emissions. It covers the 28 countries of the European Union, plus Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway, and includes approximately 45 percent of all EU GHG emissions at over 11,500 installations. The program is currently in its third phase, from 2012-2020, to achieve the EU goal of 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The program also allows for certain offset credits, generated through the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation, to be used by companies to comply with the program.

EU Member states agreed to a non-binding goal of increasing energy efficiency by 20 percent by 2020. In 2011, a common framework for all member states was set out in the Energy Efficiency Directive. The directive does not set a pan-EU mechanism for increasing energy efficiency, instead instructing member states to set their own targets and then institute national policies such as energy efficiency obligations schemes or other targeted measures. There is an agreed non-binding target of 27 percent increase in energy efficiency by 2030.

The EU has a 2020 target to achieve 20 percent of power generation and 10 percent of transportation fuel use through renewables. The EU set individual targets for each member state for power generation, depending on their starting point and their capability to deploy renewable energy. However, the transportation fuel target is set at 10 percent for all member states. In October 2014, EU member states agreed to extend the target to 27 percent by 2030.

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Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 6.16 percent (Ranked 4th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 1.58 tons CO2 (35 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $4,500 (Ranked 78th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 20-25 percent emissions intensity reduction versus 2005 levels by 2020

While India’s economy and CO2 emissions have grown rapidly, per capita emissions remain well below the global average. India’s 2009 National Plan on Climate Change established eight National Missions addressing solar power, energy efficiency, water issues, sustainable habitat, agriculture, the Himalayan ecosystem, land use, and strategic knowledge on climate change. In the 2010 Cancun Agreements, India pledged to reduce emissions intensity 20 percent to 25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.  India’s current Five-Year Plan (2012-2017), which guides overall economic policy, includes goals to: achieve average 8 percent annual GDP growth; reduce emissions intensity in line with India’s Copenhagen pledge; and add 300,000 MW of renewable energy capacity.  Early this year, the newly reconstituted Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change launched new initiatives on renewable energy, coastal zone management, health and waste-to-energy.

At the federal level, India has implemented two major renewable energy-related policies: the Strategic Plan for New and Renewable Energy, which provides a broad framework, and the National Solar Mission, which sets capacity targets for renewables.  Last year, the Indian government announced it would increase solar ambition to 100 GW installed capacity by 2022, bring solar power to every home by 2019, and invest in 25 solar parks.  The Twelfth Five Year Plan proposes a National Wind Energy Mission which will boost wind energy production to 50,000 to 60,000 MW by 2022.  The government also announced new vehicle fuel-economy standards of 4.8 liters per 100 kilometers (49 MPG) by 2021-2022, a 15 percent improvement.  The Prime Minister has also launched an initiative to create 100 “smart cities” with better transport systems, utilities, and energy networks to address the challenges of urban growth.

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Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 3.85 percent (Ranked 6th)
Per Capita CO2 Emissions: 9.59 tons CO2 (213 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $31,310 (Ranked 14th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 3.8 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 (revised from 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020)
INDC: 26 percent below 2013 levels by 2030

Domestically, Japan has numerous policies to reduce its GHG emissions. In 2012, a carbon tax was set at USD 2.12 per kiloliter of oil, with all proceeds from the tax used for renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. In 2011, a law passed that required utilities to purchase power generated through renewable energy using a fixed contract with fixed pricing. There are also tax incentives and preferences given to high efficiency buildings, or those that deploy rooftop solar photovoltaics. Another law, from 2007, requires local government authorities to take into consideration environmental performance when awarding contracts for projects.

Internationally, Japan is not included under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, Japan has used market mechanisms to comply with its Kyoto target, both by purchasing Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) and Assigned Amount Units (AAUs). In 2011, it established an alternative mechanism governed outside of the UNFCCC. The JCM establishes bilateral agreements between Japan and host countries to generate projects that reduce emissions. These reductions are credited and can be used by domestic firms to meet emission reduction targets. So far, Japan has signed bilateral agreements with 12 countries.



Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.37 percent (Ranked 12th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 3.72 tons CO2 (83 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $13,420 (Ranked 35th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 30 percent below BAU levels by 2020
INDC: 22 percent reduction on GHG emissions from BAU by 2030. A 40 percent reduction from BAU by 2030 is conditional on the outcome of a Paris agreement.

In 2007, the Mexican government released its climate change strategy, encompassing energy, sustainable development, waste management, agriculture, forestry, land use, and conservation. Climate change policy was brought into law in 2012 with the passing of the General Law on Climate Change. In October 2013, Mexican president Enrique Pen?a Nieto announced the establishment of a carbon tax for fossil fuel producers, set at US$ 3.90 per ton of CO2e. The program entered into compliance in January 2014.


Republic of Korea

Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.87 percent (Ranked 7th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 11.82 tons CO2 (263 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $27,990 (Ranked 12th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 30 percent below BAU levels by 2020
INDC: 37 percent below BAU levels by 2030

Korea launched the world’s second largest emissions trading system (ETS) on January 1, 2015. The ETS is a key policy to reach Korea’s Copenhagen target of 30 percent below BAU levels by 2020. The program covers roughly two-thirds of nationwide emissions. It builds from the country’s previous experience with a voluntary trading program, the Target Management Scheme. The program is currently scheduled to run until 2026 and includes over 500 companies across the country. In addition to the ETS, since 2012 Korea has a renewable portfolio standard requiring a steadily increasing percentage of power generation come from renewable sources, up to 10 percent in 2022.

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South Africa

Share of Global Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (2013): 1.19 percent (Ranked 15th)
Per Capita CO2 emissions: 7.20 tons CO2 (160 percent of global average)
Per Capita GDP (2005 US Dollars): $10,690 (Ranked 45th)

Copenhagen Pledge: 34 percent below BAU emissions in 2020
INDC: Emissions to peak at between 398-614 MTCO2e by 2025, plateau for approximately a decade, then decline thereafter.

South Africa is a significant coal consumer and exporter, and imports substantial volumes of oil and natural gas. The country’s climate strategy calls for emissions to peak between 2020 and 2025, stabilize for about a decade, and then begin to decline. The South African government has proposed a national carbon tax to reduce emissions, currently under consideration by the legislature. The tax will cover power generation and industrial emissions, and account for approximately three-quarters of national emissions. The tax is scheduled to come into force in mid-2016.