Here's What the G-20 Nations are Pledging on Climate Change

  • Saudi pledge means all G20 are promising climate action
  • Twenty major economies account for 3/4 of global emissions

Saudi Arabia’s pledge this week to curb its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 means all of the Group of 20 major economies are promising to take action to fight climate change as part of a United Nations deal they aim to seal in Paris in December.

As of Thursday, the UN had received 134 submissions, representing the actions 161 nations are prepared to take as part of a the new agreement, which would be the first to bind all nations to limit their emissions. The 10 biggest emitters have all submitted pledges, with Iran, the 11th biggest, the largest yet to do so. Iranian envoy Majid Shafie-Pour said last month the plan is to do so by mid-November.

The UN on Oct. 30 said that the pledges by 146 countries it had received through Oct. 1 would slash emissions in 2030 by 3.6 billion tons. That’s roughly equivalent to eliminating the annual emissions of Russia, Germany and the U.K. The calculation excluded Saudi Arabia’s promise, which came in after the cut-off date for the analysis. 

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres says the promised action would limit warming this century to 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s short of the global target of 2 degrees, but an advance on the 4 degrees of warming the World Bank said three years ago that the planet was on track for.

Here’s what the G20 nations have promised:


An unconditional pledge for a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 relative to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. With international assistance, the cut could rise to 30 percent. Business-as-usual refers to where emissions would be in any given year assuming the country took no action to limit them.


An absolute reduction in emissions of 26 percent to 28 percent in 2030 from 2005.


An absolute reduction in emissions of 37 percent in 2025 from 2005. The country has indicated “for reference purposes only” that the reduction would be 43 percent by 2030. The country also aims to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030.


A 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2030.


A pledge for its emissions to reach a peak “around” 2030, making “best efforts” to do so early. The world’s biggest emitter also promises to cut carbon dioxide emitted per dollar of economic output by 60 percent to 65 percent from 2005 and to increase the share of energy from renewables and nuclear power to 20 percent by 2030.

European Union

The 28-nation bloc pledged a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2030 from 1990.


See European Union.


See European Union.


A goal to cut the emissions per unit of economic output by 33 percent to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005. The world’s third-biggest emitter also aims to get 40 percent of its electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2030.


A pledge to cut emissions by 29 percent from a business-as-usual scenario in 2030. Given international assistance, it would raise the pledge to a 41 percent reduction.


See European Union.


A 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in 2030 from 2013 levels. Renewables in 2030 will provide 22 percent to 24 percent of power in 2030, and nuclear will generate another 20 percent to 22 percent.


An unconditional 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas and short-lived pollutant emissions in 2030 versus a business-as-usual scenario. The pledge includes a peak for absolute emissions in 2026, and subject to international assistance, could be raised to a 40 percent reduction.


A 25 percent to 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in 2030 from 1990 levels.

Saudi Arabia

The Gulf kingdom aims to slash annual emissions in 2030 by 130 million tons of carbon dioxide through measures including the deployment of solar, wind and geothermal energy plants, and a pilot carbon capture and storage program. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter said its actions are “premised on the fact that the economic and social consequences of international climate change policies and measures do not pose disproportionate or abnormal burden on the kingdom’s economy.”

South Africa

The country pledged to “peak, plateau and decline” its emissions, with the peak occurring between 2020 and 2025, followed by a decade-long plateau, and then absolute declines. It gave an indicative range for pollution levels of 398 megatons to 614 megatons of CO2 between 2025 and 2030.

South Korea

A 37 percent reduction from business-as-usual projections in 2030. The BAU projection is for 850.6 megatons of carbon dioxide in 2030.


A reduction of as much as 21 percent from business-as-usual levels in 2030.

United Kingdom

See European Union.

United States

The biggest historical emitter said it will cut emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent in 2025 from 2005 levels.

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