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Reaching the Kyoto targets: does population change matter?: a first assessment of Kyoto gaps adjusted for population changes

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C. Kettner
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This paper takes a look at the current Kyoto gap of different Annex-B countries, including countries that have not ratified the Kyoto-Protocol, and assesses how this gap would change if the Kyoto Protocol were based on per capita targets. It shows that the picture changes significantly when population changes are taken into account and suggest that for the next Kyoto commitment after 2012 these findings should be considered in order to set realistic targets and encourage all developed countries, including those with significant population growth, to participate.In particular, population growth in the US, Canada and Australia partly explains the increase in emissions. Even if per capita emissions are stabilised or decreased, this will only lead to absolute emission reductions if the per capita reductions exceed the growth rate of population. It concludes that:adjusting the Kyoto targets to changes in population may have resulted in an agreement with targets that are more realistically achievable for some countrieswith the current system, and in absence of any significant differentiation of nominal Kyoto targets among the country groups discussed here (with the exception of Australia), countries with rising populations are at a comparative disadvantage under the current formula used in the Kyoto Protocol which is based on absolute emission reduction targetsone possible justification for the more stringent per capita emission limitations of Canada and the US, implied by the Kyoto targets, could be the relatively high per capita emissions of these countries, thus potentially allowing deeper cuts in emissions. However, we believe that this argument is not sufficient to fully offset the difference in per-capita targets