[JURIST] More than 50 countries, including the US, China, and EU member states, submitted plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [JURIST news archive] to the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) [official website] prior to a Sunday deadline set by the non-binding Copenhagen Accord [text, PDF; JURIST report]. Relative to 2005 levels, the US has pledged to reduce emissions to 17 percent, while China has targeted a 40 to 45 percent reduction per GDP unit. EU members pledged a 20 percent reduction below 1990 levels. The countries submitting plans to the UNFCC represent two-thirds [BBC report] of worldwide emissions. Critics of the Copenhagen Accord say it lacks the enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure compliance, and is unlikely to limit global temperature rise to the indicated levels. Another round of climate change talks are scheduled for December [DW report], with the hope being that a binding resolution can be developed from the pledges made under the current accord.
The US has already taken several steps to reduce carbon emissions. President Obama issued an executive order [JURIST report] last week requiring the federal government to reduce its emissions by 28 percent by 2020. Executive Order 13514 [text, PDF] requires federal agencies to increase their energy efficiency and measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions. The order comes a month after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] announced a finding that greenhouse gases threaten [JURIST report] public health and the environment. The findings will enable the EPA to act without Congressional action on emissions.