Of the three announced national carbon targets I’ve heard of lately, two are arithmetically worse than Kyoto targets, and one is technically worse. The latter is Australia’s target, already discussed here.

The others are the recent US announcement, and the recent China announcement.

The US announcement was for a 17% cut, which sounds a bit better than the Kyoto US commitment (or non-commitment, as it turned out) of 7%. But it’s not really better, because it’s on 2005 levels, where as Kyoto was based on 1990. As it turns out, the US target, compared to 1990 levels is only about 5.5%, so it’s worse than the Kyoto target, and it’s 8 years later.

China’s announcement was for 40%, which sounds pretty good (and ok, since they didn’t have a target for Kyoto, it’s not really technically logical to call it worse), BUT. China’s target is relative to GDP. And China has a phenomenally high GDP growth rate, that 40% grows less meaningful every year. Even if China’s growth rate was close to average, like 3%, that 40 percent would be more or less nothing by 2020. China’s growth rate isn’t average though, it’s massive – 9% in 2008.

I’ve started collating ruses like these on envirowiki. If you know of any others, please edit that page and add them