Time for Countries to ‘Step Up Their Game’ on Paris Commitments, 1.5°C Targets
With the urgency of the climate crisis demanding bold and immediate action, this year’s edition of the annual Climate Action Tracker (CAT) report calls out the large majority of governments that are falling short of their carbon reduction commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, putting them that much farther from policies consistent with a relatively stable climate at 1.5°C average global warming.
With countries due to amp up their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris deal in 2020, “this is a call for governments all over to step up their game,” CAT states. “In particular focus are those governments that have previously presented inadequate NDCs,” as well as those “that are likely to meet—or bring their emissions close to—their NDCs without implementing any more national policies.” For the latter group, CAT frames success on paper as a failure in practice, “a strong indication that they have not yet reached their ‘highest possible ambition’ as stated in the Paris Agreement and could do well to increase their targets.”
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In the lead-up to the climate summit he plans to host in New York City in September, UN Secretary General António Guterres has pointedly urged countries to show up with concrete plans, not nice speeches. So far, about 80 have indicated they will announce more ambitious targets during the meeting.
Climate Action Tracker shows just how much ground most of them have yet to cover. Out of the 31 countries plus the European Union that it assessed, none emerged as role models for a world with warming of 1.5°C or less, and only two—Morocco and The Gambia—had climate plans compatible with a 1.5°C future. Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, and The Philippines had programs consistent with 2.0°C warming.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, and Switzerland all had “insufficient” targets, consistent with less than 3.0°C warming. Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates were all rated “highly insufficient”, on a course for less than 4.0°C. The “critically insufficient” group, on target for average global warming above 4.0°C, put the Trump administration in a class with its reflexive allies Russia and Saudi Arabia, along with coal-dependent Turkey—which has been vying to host next year’s United Nations climate conference—and Ukraine.
“2020 will see an opportunity for governments to update their targets,” CAT states, and “a number of countries are beginning to discuss net zero targets, mostly by the year 2050.” But “most governments are nowhere near taking the radical steps required, especially given that global emissions need to halve by 2030 in order to keep the goal of 1.5°C alive.”