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Climate change: Not a single G20 country is in line with the Paris Agreement, analysis shows

Climate change: Not a single G20 country is in line with the Paris Agreement, analysis shows

The watchdog Climate Action Tracker (CAT) analyzed the policies of 36 countries as well as the EU with 27 nations and found that all major economies were off track to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The countries together account for 80% of the world’s emissions.

The analysis also included some low-emission countries and found that Gambia was the only nation among all 37 that were “1.5 compatible”. Since the study included only a few minor emitters, it is possible that there are other developing countries in the world on the right track as well.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, more than 190 countries agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures — ideally to 1.5 degrees. Scientists have said that 2 degrees is a critical threshold for some of Earth’s ecosystems and that it would also trigger more catastrophic extreme weather events.

The report comes less than two months ahead of UN-mediated international climate negotiations in Glasgow, known as COP26. The president of the event, British MP Alok Sharma, has said he hopes to “keep 1.5 alive” as a limit to global warming.

CAT reported that progress had stalled after dozens of world leaders made ambitious new promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during US President Joe Biden’s climate summit in April.

“In May, after the climate leaders’ meeting and the Petersburg dialogue, we reported that there seemed to be good momentum with new commitments to climate action,” said Niklas Höhne, one of the founders of the NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner.

“But since then there has been little or no improvement: nothing is moving,” he said. “Everyone would think they have all the time in the world when in fact it’s the opposite.”

Six countries, including the UK, have an overall climate policy that is “almost adequate”, according to the report, meaning they are not yet in line with the 1.5-degree adjustment, but may be with small improvements. The UK’s target is in line with 1.5 degrees, but in practice its policies do not meet the benchmark.

The overall climate plans in the US, EU and Japan are not sufficient to reach the target of 1.5 degrees, the analysis found that although their domestic targets are relatively close to where they should be, their international policies are not.

The CAT had previously categorized the United States as “critically inadequate” – the worst category – under former President Donald Trump, who formally withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement shortly before the end of his term.

US domestic emission reduction targets have since been upgraded to “almost adequate”. However, the United States is still inadequate in the CAT’s “fair share” survey, which takes into account the country’s “responsibilities and capabilities.”

Under the Paris Agreement, countries made their promises to reduce emissions, also known as National Determined Contributions, or NDCs. All signatories were to update their NDCs by 31 July this year under the Paris Agreement. There are still more than 70 countries that have not yet submitted an update.

India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are among the countries that missed the July 31 deadline. China, the world’s biggest polluter, announced a new target but has not formally submitted it to the UN.

And many countries submitted an “update” without actually increasing their promise. Brazil and Mexico presented the same goals as they did in 2015. Changes in these countries’ baseline assumptions make their promises weaker than they were before, the analysis showed. Russia, the CAT report said, submitted an update that looks stronger on paper but does not constitute a meaningful change.

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“Of particular concern are Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam: they have not raised their ambitions at all and presented the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than those they presented in 2015. These countries must rethink their choices, ”said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, another CAT partner.

The continued use of coal remains a significant political issue, the report found, with China and India preserving huge coal pipelines. Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea also plan to continue coal consumption in the future.

The CAT also warned that in many countries’ attempts to deselect coal, which is generally the fossil fuel that causes the most emissions, many countries sought to use more natural gas, which the CAT said was erroneously sold as a “bridge fuel”.

The Australian government, which has said it will continue to extract coal after 2030, is also investing money in new gas exploration and infrastructure, and “is of particular concern,” CAT said in its report.

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Thailand plans to increase new gas as it phases out coal, while the EU still plans to commit public funds to new gas infrastructure, and various Member States are lobbying hard for the continued use of this fossil fuel.

Hare warned against the development of blue hydrogen, based on natural gas, as an alternative to other fossil fuels.

“Gas is a fossil fuel, and any investment in gas today risks becoming a stranded asset. And although interest in green hydrogen has grown exponentially, there are still a large number of hydrogen projects underway where it is produced by gas,” Hare said. . “Hydrogen produced by gas still produces carbon and is in conflict with reaching net zero.”

Net zero by 2050

Reducing emissions is a non-negotiable part of the Paris Agreement. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases capture solar radiation in the atmosphere, just as glass captures heat in a greenhouse. This causes temperatures to rise and drives more extreme weather, ice melting, sea level rise and ocean acidification.

To keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, the world must reach zero by 2050, a landmark UN climate science report released in August showed.

Net-zero refers to a state in which the amount of greenhouse gas emitted is not greater than the amount removed from the atmosphere.

A traffic jam on the M25 motorway in Godstone, England, after climate activists blocked a slip road to pressure the UK government to legislate for stronger emission reductions on 13 September 2021.

According to UN climate change, more than 130 countries have promised to reduce emissions to net zero so far. The new analysis of CAT found that even if everyone followed up on their plans, the warming would still reach 2 degrees.

If they stick to the policy they have in place, temperatures are likely to be 2.4 degrees higher by the end of the century.

Temperatures are already about 1.2 degrees higher than they were before humans began burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, so room for error is very limited.

“An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from the increasingly severe and frequent effects of climate change, yet government efforts are lagging behind as necessary,” said Bill Hare, CEO of think tank Climate Analytics and another author of the analysis.

While many governments have committed to net zero, Hare said that without real action soon, it will be almost impossible to reach net zero.


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