BY VISHAL GULATI
New Delhi, Feb 27 | A United Nations Climate Change report has warned that with all current climate pledges, global emissions in 2030 will only be one per cent lower than emissions in 2010.
The initial synthesis, published on Friday, analysed the impact of the level of ambition from all climate plans submitted by December 2020.
This is yet another stark warning that countries must immediately ramp up their climate ambition if they are serious about the Paris Agreement they committed to more than five years ago.
The synthesis of climate action ambition as contained in countries’ new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), indicating that nations must redouble their climate efforts if they are to reach the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise by two degrees Celsius — ideally 1.5 degrees — by the end of the century.
The NDC Synthesis Report covers submissions up to December 31, 2020, and includes new or updated NDCs by 75 Parties, which represent approximately 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The majority of these countries increased their levels of ambition to reduce emissions. Nevertheless, the level of ambition communicated through these NDCs indicates that changes in these countries’ total emissions would be small, less than one per cent in 2030 compared to 2010.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by contrast, has indicated that emission reduction ranges to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature goal should be around minus 45 per cent in 2030 compared to 2010.
The need to increase ambition is thus high and urgent, as the report demonstrates — despite the fact that the report currently covers less than half of all Parties to the Paris Agreement, said the UN Climate Change.
Climate science has made it clear that a deep transformation is needed to achieve the climate goals, and that such transformation must start early and result in deep emission reductions even before 2030.
“We are encouraged by the recent political shift in momentum towards stronger climate action throughout the world, with many countries, including some major emitters, setting net-zero emissions goals by mid-century and global corporations committing to stronger climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, “but this report shows that current levels of climate ambition are not on track to meet our Paris Agreement goals”.
The NDCs are increasingly linked with the longer-term goals or aspirations for achieving carbon neutrality around mid-century. This is encouraging as NDCs can chart a clear course towards countries’ net-zero targets.
However, there remains a significant gap between longer-term carbon neutrality and the commitments undertaken in the NDCs, which needs to be addressed.
“It is vitally important that we get more clarity on how countries are planning to fulfil those longer-term commitments” said Espinosa.
“If we want to stand any chance of reducing emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and embark on the road towards carbon neutrality around mid-century, transformative decisions need to be taken now,” she underlined.
Responding to the report, Alok Sharma, an Indian-origin Minister in the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet who is the COP26 President-Designate to lead the crucial UN climate talks, said the window for action to safeguard “our planet is closing fast”.
“The @UNFCCC Synthesis Report should serve as an urgent call to action and I am asking all countries, particularly major emitters, to make ambitious 2030 emission reduction commitments in NDCs well ahead of COP26,” he said in a tweet.
Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, told IANS: “This new UN report is another stark warning that countries are not living up to the promises they made more than five years ago in Paris.
“As warming records and disastrous droughts, floodings and extreme weather events keep growing, reaching the Paris objective of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius becomes tougher and tougher. Nice words are no longer enough, we need to see governments take real action, implement and go beyond their weak pledges.”
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at email@example.com)