Pledges made by countries under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change have been found to be ‘woefully inadequate’ in a report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
The report, written by the non-profit research group, says the commitments will not do enough to avert a rise in global temperatures which will lead to worse droughts, storms, and floods.
Under the terms of the global 2015 Paris Agreement, countries had agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to limit global warming to at least 2 °C but preferably below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels (1850-1900). It is estimated that the planet has already warmed by at least 1.1 °C since that time.
The agreement also requires 194 countries to detail their plans to fight climate change in what are known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.
According to the report, NDC pledges made through September would only reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases by 7% from 2019 levels by 2030.
Countries must strengthen their targets by about six times that, at least 43%, to align with the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recommendation to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of sufficiently limiting global temperatures, it said.
“It really looks like we’re hitting a bit of a plateau,” Taryn Fransen, a senior fellow at WRI and author of the report, said in an interview. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic woes may have mostly capped countries’ ambitions to boost their NDCs since 2021.
The Current NDCs proposals aim to reduce emissions by 5.5 gigatonnes by 2030 compared with the initial NDCs from 2015, an amount nearly equal to eliminating the annual emissions of the United States. But only 10% of that planned reduction has been pledged since 2021.
On the bright side, Australia and Indonesia did boost their NDCs this year. “That got us some progress,” Fransen said, “but there hasn’t been a lot beyond that.” Countries in the Paris Agreement are required to update their NDCs by 2025.
“If the pace of improvement from 2016 to today continues, the world will not only miss the Paris Agreement goals, but it will miss them by a long shot,” the report said.
Much of the focus at COP27, will centre on reducing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. The Nord Stream leak, one of the worst methane leaks known to date (estimated between 56,000 and 155,000 tonnes) will no doubt be a point of concern.
In an example of the work yet to be done, WRI found that only 15 of the 119 countries that signed a Global Methane Pledge launched last year included a specific, quantified methane reduction target in their NDCs.
Fransen said economic and health benefits of reducing emissions, such as the build-out of the energy transition and reduced air pollution, can help build momentum to deeper cuts. “Seeing those benefits can only help drive more ambitions, but it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem,” she said.
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