NEW DELHI: Analysing climate action commitments made by countries so far, the UN body on climate change on Friday noted that the collective pledges would not help the world reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to less disastrous levels unless the collective target of emission cuts is substantially upgraded.
Though the world would require to cut the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25-45% from the 2010 level by 2030 to meet the Paris goal of limiting warming by 2 degrees celsius or by 1.5 degree celsius, the current pledges of all the countries together would, in fact, decrease the emission only by around 12% during the period.
In its synthesis report on nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said, "The total global GHG emission level in 2030, taking into account implementation of all the latest NDCs, is expected to be 16.3% above the 2010 level."
According to the latest IPCC findings, such an increase, unless actions are taken immediately, may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7 degree C by the end of the century. "The 16% increase is a huge cause of concern. It is in sharp contrast with the calls by science for rapid, sustained and large-scale emission reductions to prevent the most severe climate consequences and suffering, especially of the most vulnerable, throughout the world," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UNFCCC.
Ideally, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 45% from the 2010 level by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050 to limit the warming by 1.5 Degree C. Similarly for limiting global warming to below 2 degrees C, the emissions need to decrease by about 25% from the 2010 level by 2030 and reach net zero around 2070.
But, as the synthesis report shows, the world is falling well short of the level of ambition necessary to avoid the worst climate outcomes. It sends a clear signal to all countries for the necessity of updating their NDCs ahead of the 26th session of the UN climate change conference (COP26) which is scheduled to be held in Glasgow, UK in November.
"All other geopolitical issues will fade into irrelevance if we fail to rise to the existential challenge that climate change presents. COP26 is almost upon us and there is still time for governments to contribute more to the necessary solutions," said Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism and former executive secretary of the UNFCCC.
The NDCs are national climate plans in which countries communicate the actions that they plan to take to address climate change under the Paris Agreement. The synthesis report includes information from all 191 member countries to the Paris Agreement based on their latest NDCs as on July 30, including information from 86 updated or new NDCs submitted by 113 countries. The new or updated NDCs cover about 59% of the countries and account for about 49% of global GHG emissions.
"This report is clear: ambitious climate action can avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, but only if all nations act together. Those nations which have submitted new and ambitious climate plans are already bending the curve of emissions downwards by 2030. But without action from all countries, especially the biggest economies, these efforts risk being in vain. We can change the course of history for the better. We can and must act, for ourselves, for vulnerable communities and future generations", said Alok Sharma, incoming COP26 president.
The issue of updating NDCs will also dominate discourse when world leaders meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) next week. "The brutal impacts of climate change hitting every corner of the world must spur leaders to action at the UN General Assembly next week. This report underlines the self-harm that big emitters inflict on the planet by failing to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement. We now need all G20 countries to deliver tougher plans by COP26 in line with 1.5C," said Laurence Tubiana, CEO, European Climate Foundation.