Wilderness Policy

UN: New carbon-cutting climate pledges are underwhelming

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published an interim report on the progress that countries make to mitigate climate change. In the report the UN concludes that nations’ pledges are far short from achieving the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement goal is to limit the global temperature rice by 2°C, ideally even 1.5°C, by 2030.

Planet Earth is on ‘red alert’

The UN recognises how most countries, including the top-polluters China, United States and India, failed to submit their official emission-cutting targets. Experts will discuss these targets during climate negotiations in Scotland later this year. The pledges that have been made are insufficient. So far, they aim to reduce global CO2 emission to less than 1% below 2010 levels by 2030.

Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, […].

António Guterres
UN Secretary-General

The message from the UN Secretary-General is clear. Countries need to rework and revise their pledges and try harder to mitigate climate change. UN officials say that global carbon pollution levels will have to be 45% below the 2010 level to achieve the Paris Agreement, and limit future global warming by half a degree.

Radical change is needed

Climate Analytics, a private group that tracks countries’ emissions targets, predict that the world is heading to a 3°C increase, rather than maximum 1.5°C. Therefore, UN Climate Chief Patricia Espinosa encourages countries to make a radical change. The countries are far short from where they should be. Yes, more than 120 countries have defined longer-term goals to reach a net-zero carbon emission by 2050. This includes also China and the United States. However, these longer-term goals should be actively transformed into immediate action. The planet and people are past the point of talking, they desperately need action, says UN Secretary-General Guterres.

The top two polluting countries, China and the United States, produce 35% of the global carbon emission. Radical action in these countries can make a huge difference to the entire world. Climate experts are sure that it is possible to reach carbon emission levels by 2030, necessary to meet the targets. But it would mean that the US has to cut emmissions to 50% of 2005 levels, and this requires concerted actions.

Back in 2015, the US administration under President Obama submitted the goal to reduce emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Later, President Trump withdrew the US entirely from the Paris Agreement. Now, President Biden has signed the official documents to enter the Paris Agreement once again.

Did the corona pandemic not help?

We witnessed a drastic decrease in carbon pollution early 2020, when the world went into the pandemic lockdown due to the corona virus. Nevertheless, initial data shows that by the end of 2020, pollution levels were similar to 2019 already. It is imminent that sea levels will rise, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people who reside in coastal regions. Besides rising sea levels, we can also expect more frequent heatwaves, hot summers, worse droughts and other weather extremes. Already now, people are facing extreme rainfalls, wildfires and floods, resulting in food shortages that impact millions of people.

UN Secretary-General Guterres called once again on the top polluting countries to use the pandemic recovery period to implement the necessary changes. It is an urgently needed moment to “build back greener and better”, as many organisations also state. We can expect the next report on climate change and carbon emission reduction before COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November.

Curious to read the full report? You will find it here.

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