As the US-EU bidding war hots up over what should replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012, expect to hear plenty more about the ‘AP6’ – or, to give it its full title, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (official website here). The AP6 group of countries (the US, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea; Canada is reportedly also considering signing up) are all devotees of an approach based on technology partnerships and voluntary targets as an alternative to mandatory targets and timetables.
Of course, all of the countries involved are keen to demonstrate that their voluntary approach can generate real results; unsurprising, then, that the US State Department issued a chirpy press release last week headlined “Asia-Pacific Group Achieving Climate Results Through Partnership”. But there’s a small problem. The key part of the State Department press release is its contention that:
[The AP6 partnership] together with the diffusion of clean technologies to other regions could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by about 23 percent in 2050 compared with what would otherwise have been the case, according to a 2006 study by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economics (ABARE).
Sounds great, right? Only until you follow up the reference and take a look at the ABARE report itself, where “what would otherwise have been the case” turns out to be a whopping global increase in emissions between now and 2050: from around 8 gigatonnes of carbon equivalent (GtC-e) today to around 23 GtC-e in 2050.
So what the AP6’s touted 23 per cent reduction below business as usual really means is that global emissions in 2050 of about 17 GtC-e rather than the 23 GtC-e that would supposedly have happened otherwise. In other words: even according to the AP6’s own best case scenario, global emissions grow by more than a hundred per cent between now and 2050. It’s not looking like a lean, mean alternative to targets and timetables just yet…