COP26 commitments not nearly enough to avert climate crisis, finds report

10 Nov 2021

Image: © Halfpoint/Stock.adobe.com

The Climate Action Tracker report found that with current pledges, emissions will still be twice as high as they need to be for 2030 targets.

Despite a host of commitments made by world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow over the past 10 days to stop the climate crisis in its tracks, the world is headed for a temperature increase of at least 2.4 degrees Celsius, according to an independent analysis.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which evaluates government climate actions against the Paris Agreement’s aim of stalling global heating at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, has served a blow to the many promising commitments made at COP26 so far by saying they aren’t enough.

Future Human

According to CAT’s analysis, the latest climate action commitments made in Glasgow, including Ireland’s, and other pledges will still see emissions soar to around twice the amount needed by 2030 to cap global heating at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The analysis also found that stalled momentum from leaders and governments on their short-term targets has narrowed the 2030 emissions gap – between the cuts needed to stay within 1.5 degrees and those offered by governments – by only 15pc to 17pc over the last year. Projected heating from existing policies, rather than new proposals, stands at 2.7 degrees Celsius.

“The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net-zero goals,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a partner organisation of CAT. “There’s a nearly one-degree gap between government current policies and their net-zero goals.”

‘Credibility gap’

Since the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by US president Joe Biden in April, CAT said that temperature estimates based on pledges, including all the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and other binding long-term targets, have dropped by 0.3 to 2.1 degrees Celsius.

This is largely because of the inclusion of the new US and China net-zero targets by 2050 and 2060 respectively, which have been formalised in their long-term strategies submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty behind COP26.

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net-zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net-zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap,” said Hare.

Prof Niklas Höhne, founder of the NewClimate Institute in Cologne, added that even though the wave of net-zero targets look like “remarkable news”, there’s still much to be concerned about.

He said that if the massive gap cannot be narrowed by COP26, governments must agree to come back for COP27 with “new and stronger” targets. “If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit may well be lost.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com