World Failing to Meet Emissions Reductions Pledged in Paris Agreement

Five years ago in Paris, delegations from 191 countries pledged to reduce emissions by 45 percent, but the situation has only gotten worse.

Oct. 1, 2021
By Paolo DeAndreis

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Global pledges for reduc­ing green­house gas emis­sions are not enough to cur­tail global warm­ing, accord­ing to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The United in Science 2021 report warned that each of the next five years will present tem­per­a­tures at least 1 ºC higher than pre-indus­trial lev­els.

We need to build global sol­i­dar­ity. In the pan­demic as in the cli­mate emer­gency, no one is safe until every­one is safe.- Mohamed Adow, direc­tor, Power Shift Africa

Compared to the aver­age tem­per­a­tures of the period from 1850 to 1900, from 2022 onwards the world will see a tem­per­a­ture rise by 0.9 °C to 1.8 °C. By 2030, that increase could go up even fur­ther.

See Also: U.S., Europe Announce Plans to Dramatically Cut Methane Emissions

There is a 40 per­cent chance that the aver­age tem­per­a­ture in one of the next five years will be at least 1.5 °C warmer than pre-indus­trial lev­els,” warned the report. However, it is very unlikely that the five-year aver­age tem­per­a­ture for 2021 to 2025 will pass the 1.5 °C thresh­olds.”

The pro­jec­tions are based on a wide array of sources, one of which is the green­house gas emis­sions data com­ing from the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), which paints a quickly wors­en­ing global sce­nario.

UNEP has esti­mated that five years after the Paris Agreement the so-called emis­sion gap is as large as ever. The emis­sion gap is the dif­fer­ence between how much the sci­en­tists had asked for global emis­sions to be reduced by 2030 and where they actu­ally are head­ing.

Last year, we esti­mated that there was a 5.6 per­cent drop in emis­sions and since the life­time of car­bon diox­ide is so long, this one-year anom­aly in emis­sions does­n’t change the big pic­ture,” Petteri Taalas, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the WMO, said in ref­er­ence to the effects of the Covid-19 pan­demic in 2020.

We saw some improve­ments in air qual­ity,” he added. We saw pos­i­tive evo­lu­tion there. But now we have returned more or less back to the 2019 emis­sion lev­els.”

The Paris Agreement asks for coun­tries to lay out national strate­gic plans aimed at lim­it­ing emis­sions and fore­cast­ing their future bal­ance.

The sig­na­tory nations agreed to try to pre­vent tem­per­a­tures from exceed­ing 2 ºC above pre-indus­trial lev­els, with a spe­cial effort on try­ing to keep them under 1.5 ºC. Of the 191 coun­tries that have signed the agree­ment, only 113 have pre­sented their national plans.

According to the WMO report, given the pledges and the emis­sion strate­gies already rolled out or announced, global emis­sions are set to rise 16 per­cent by 2030, well above the 45 per­cent drop that U.N. sci­en­tists see as the only way to meet Paris Agreement expec­ta­tions.

We are not yet on track towards the Paris 1.5 to 2 degrees’ limit, although pos­i­tive things have started to hap­pen and the polit­i­cal inter­est to mit­i­gate cli­mate change is clearly grow­ing,” Taalas added. But to be suc­cess­ful in this effort, we have to start act­ing now. We can­not wait for decades to act, we have to start act­ing already in this decade.”

According to the U.N. analy­sis, a 16 per­cent rise might lead to a global tem­per­a­ture increase of up to 2.7 ºC, far exceed­ing the Paris Agreement tar­get.

A 16 per­cent increase is a huge cause for con­cern,” Patricia Espinosa, the U.N.‘s chief cli­mate nego­tia­tor, told the BBC.

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,” she added.

According to a World Resources Institute and Climate Analytics report cited by the BBC, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India and China are respon­si­ble for 33 per­cent of all green­house gas emis­sions, but none of them have yet pre­sented their own strate­gic plan. Other coun­tries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Russia, have warned that their emis­sions will keep grow­ing.

While many indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries pre­pare for the COP26 inter­na­tional cli­mate meet­ing to be held in Glasgow start­ing October 31, other nations are start­ing to ana­lyze the costs both from acti­vat­ing their own strate­gic plans and from the con­se­quences of global warm­ing itself.

A report from the Kenyan think­tank Power Shift Africa warned African gov­ern­ments strug­gling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pan­demic that a nar­row focus on an eco­nomic recov­ery that ignores cli­mate change and the broader objec­tives of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment will cost Africa more eco­nomic pain in the long run.”

According to Power Shift Africa, cli­mate change should be put at the heart of the eco­nomic recov­ery plans through­out the con­ti­nent.

Driving a Green and Sustainable post-Covid-19 Recovery in Africa” acknowl­edges the ongo­ing efforts of a few coun­tries, such as Nigeria, where five mil­lion off-grid home solar sys­tems will be installed.

The pan­demic is a reset moment, to shift away from bil­lions of invest­ments in doomed fos­sil fuels,” Mohamed Adow, direc­tor of Power Shift Africa, told AFP. Africa is blessed with sun and wind, it must be the bedrock of our recov­ery.”

According to Adow, wealth­ier coun­tries should stick to their pledges and give cli­mate-vul­ner­a­ble nations the promised $100 bil­lion, which is needed to cut emis­sions and offer new paths to devel­op­ment.

We need to build global sol­i­dar­ity,” he said. In the pan­demic as in the cli­mate emer­gency, no one is safe until every­one is safe.”





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