Feature Data Briefing

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: on target?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e376 (Published 18 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e376
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN, UK
  1. j.appleby{at}kingsfund.org.uk

The NHS has had some success in reducing its emissions, but John Appleby finds there is still a long way to go to meet government targets

With the 1997 Kyoto climate change protocol expiring this year, the UN talks in Durban in December offered some hope that developed and developing countries can bind themselves to serious reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The key word in that sentence was “hope.” In fact, what the talks in Durban achieved was not a legally binding agreement or treaty but rather the principles on which a future agreement will be based.1 More talking is therefore needed to get an agreement by 2015 and in force by 2020.

To be fair, international treaties are difficult things to agree—especially in this case, given the wrangles about the economics, science, and politics of climate change. And to be doubly fair, international agreement has not ruled out unilateral action. …

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