Current global efforts ‘insufficient’ to meet Paris 1.5 degrees pledge, report finds

Countries' efforts to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century are “insufficient”, finds the latest UN Climate Change reports.

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The two United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reports published yesterday analysed the pledges of the 193 Parties who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, and found that the combined efforts would result in 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

One report focuses on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which under the Glasgow COP, countries promised to strengthen, but at the time of writing only 24 have submitted new targets. A further 15 countries updated their NDCs in October 2021, before COP26.

The report shows there has been a reduction in the forecast emissions from countries compared to 2010 levels, with current commitments set to increase global emissions by 10.6% by 2030. In last year's assessment, emissions were set to increase by 13.7%. However, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report published this year said that CO2 emissions need to be cut 43% using 2019 as a baseline in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Executive secretary of UN Climate Change, Simon Stiell said: “The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year, but the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement.

“We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”

He also said he was “disappointed” that so few countries had submitted new or updated climate plans since COP26.

He added: “Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”

The other report looks at the long-term low-emission development strategies under the Paris Agreement, and analyses the plans of 62 countries within this for a transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. The report indicated that if these strategies are realised, then these countries’ greenhouse gas emissions could be roughly 68% per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019. These countries account for 83% of the world's GDP, and include the UK.

The report warns that to reach these goals, ambition action by 2030 is needed, or action may be postponed until it is too late.

This news comes as COP27 is set to be held in Egypt next month, UK COP26 lead Alok Sharma set to lead negotiations on behalf of the UK despite being recently stripped of his cabinet position.

Sharma said: “It is critical that we do everything within our means to keep 1.5C in reach, as we promised in the Glasgow Climate Pact. These reports show that although we have made some progress - and every fraction of a degree counts - much more is needed urgently. We need the major emitters to step up and increase ambition ahead of COP27.”