Despite Glasgow pledges, emissions will double 1.5ºC targets in 2030

Anna Triponel

November 8, 2021
Our key takeaway: The new Glasgow pledges are not enough. We urgently need more commitment, more action and more specificity from leaders, failing which we face an extremely bleak future (if we have a future at all).

Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has published ‘Glasgow’s 2030 credibility gap: net zero’s lip service to climate action’. In short, “at the midpoint of Glasgow, it is clear there is a massive credibility, action and commitment gap that casts a long and dark shadow of doubt over the net zero goals put forward by more than 140 countries, covering 90% of global emissions”:

  • End-of-century warming at 2.7°C, or 2.4°C, or 2.1°C: CAT finds that with current policies, including those announced during Glasgow, warming will be 2.7°C, which is significantly higher than the 1.5°C target. They further find that “major new policy developments are not the driving factor. We need to see a profound effort in all sectors, in this decade, to decarbonise the world to be in line with 1.5°C.” If we assume the full implementation of 2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) targets (without long-term pledges), we are still on track for a 2.4°C temperature increase by the end of the century. (NDCs represent the efforts made by each country to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C). If we include long-term targets within this estimate, we are at looking at 2.1°C – primarily because of “inclusion of the US and China’s net zero targets, now that both countries have submitted their long-term strategies to the UNFCCC.”
  • Insufficient momentum to increase 2030 climate targets in Glasgow: CAT highlights that even though each NDC update is supposed to be more progressive, some NDC updates are the same as before, and some are even worse. Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand and Viet Nam have submitted the same NDCs as in 2015, while Brazil and Mexico have submitted even less ambitious NDCs. Iran has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement. CAT underscores that “[e]ven with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5°. Therefore, all governments need to reconsider their targets.” Furthermore, although a number of the commitments made in Glasgow look positive, some of them are not as forward-looking as would appear. For instance, much of the potential of the Global Methane Pledge “is already included in existing climate pledges” and the Global Forestry Finance pledge is only valuable if “this finance is additional to the current promised funding and does not cut funding for other mitigation measures.”
  • Net zero design of targets inadequate: CAT highlights that around 90% of emissions are now covered by net zero targets. Although this is encouraging, “the quality of most remains questionable.” CAT finds that only four targets (6% of those submitted) are acceptable and meet CAT’s design blueprint for transparency, comprehensiveness and robustness. These are from the EU, the UK, Chile and Costa Rica. However, 17% are average (USA, Canada, Germany, South Korea), and 29% are poor (Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand). Worse, 27% do not provide enough information to evaluate the strength of their design (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and Ukraine), and some countries have no target at all (Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines and Viet Nam). CAT emphasizes that if we assume that all of these targets are fully implemented, the temperature estimate would be down to 1.8°C by 2100, with peak warming of 1.9°C. However, CAT makes clear that “this is only IF these targets are fully implemented, and it’s a big IF” given that CAT’s “analysis shows countries with an ‘acceptable net zero rating cover only 6% of global emissions.” Even this ‘optimistic scenario’ “is not Paris Agreement compatible” and “warming of 2.4°C or more cannot be ruled out.” CAP finds that “2030 actions and targets are more often than not inconsistent with net zero goals, so that the gap between current policies and net zero goals is now 0.9°C. This, we consider, is the credibility gap that Glasgow needs to address.”

For more, see Climate Action Tracker (CAT), Glasgow’s 2030 credibility gap: net zero’s lip service to climate action (November 2021)

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