Yesterday, China set a specific target for carbon emission reductions, relative to their GDP growth, roughly 40 - 45% by 2020: China Joins U.S. in Pledge of Hard Targets on Emissions
Obama pledged on Wednesday an absolute target for the US of 17% reductions (from 2005 levels) by 2020 and 85% by 2050.
To do a quick comparison, I went to the World Resources Institute (WRI) and found the following:
In 2005, carbon emissions relative to GDP were 475.2 for the US and 1,045.8 for China.
In 2005, per capita carbon emissions, the US tops China at 19.87 as compared to 4.28.
US and China look most similar in absolute terms, total emissions in 2005: US at 5,891,884 thousand metric tons and China at 5,577,549 thousand metric tons.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) has been tracking their own indicator since 1961, creating a score based around a country's life expectancy, life satisfaction, and ecological footprint. The lower, the better. The US currently scores 30.7, and China 57.1.
Where does this leave us? How do we evaluate success and can it reflect environmental, economic and social well-being? What can we do as individuals each day to get closer to 350?
We're looking forward to leadership in Copenhagen next month, and to a new year with continued positive change.