Emissions targets too weak: U.N.

Current goals for combating climate change do not go far enough, the United Nations has said, with carbon emissions set for a mere 0.5 per cent reduction by 2030. 

The U.N.’s climate change agency has already said the world needs 45 per cent less carbon emissions by 2030, and that each country needs to do their part to get there.

But in its latest wrap up of how each countries’ current commitments will contribute, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (U.N.F.C.C.C.) says the world is going to fall short of what is needed.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report is a red alert for the 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,” he said in a statement.

“The science is clear, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must cut global emission by 45 per cent by 2030, from 2010 levels.

“Decision makers must walk the talk. Long-term commitments must be matched by immediate actions to launch the decade of transformation that people and the planet so desperately need.”

The U.N.F.C.C.C.’s synthesis report was released this week and covers 75 countries and their submissions on their contributions to the climate change fight.

The 75 countries account for 40 per cent of the Paris Agreement signatories, and their current emissions account for 30 per cent of the global situation.

More countries are expected to file their commitments ahead of the next international negotiations in November.

Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa says this makes the report a snapshot, and not the complete picture of what global commitments may look like, with another report due out right before the November meeting (C.O.P.26)

“We congratulate Parties that rose to the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, honoured their commitments under the Paris Agreement and submitted their NDCs by the deadline,” Ms. Espinosa said.

“But it’s time for all remaining Parties to step up, fulfil what they promised to do and submit their NDCs as soon as possible. If this task was urgent before, it’s crucial now.” 

Greenpeace Australia Pacific says the report proves Australia needs to ramp up its efforts to help save itself and its Pacific neighbours from the impacts of climate change.

Head of Research and Investigations Dr. Nikola Casule said Australia’s emissions and “weak” commitments are dangerous.

“Australia’s dangerously weak Paris targets are putting us on a path for more farm-wrecking droughts, more koalas being burned alive in catastrophic bushfires, and the irreversible destruction of more of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said in a statement.

“Australia’s current level of emissions reduction, if extrapolated across the whole world, would lock in up to 3 degrees of global heating. This would be disastrous for Australia and for Pacific Island Countries, which are already facing serious climate-driven impacts even at the present 1.1 degrees of heating.”

Dr. Casule said Australia must develop policies that put the country on track to having 100 per cent renewable energy production in the next decade, and to reach net-zero emissions in the next 20 years.

The U.N.F.C.C.C. reports of the countries whose new commitments they received, between 40 and 70 per cent have in fact increased their efforts on paper, “demonstrating increased ambition to address climate change.”

Between 70 and 90 per cent did not update their commitments to factor in the COVID-19 pandemic, the report notes.

“The longer-term effects of the related changes in national and global [greenhouse gas] emissions will depend on the duration of the pandemic and the nature and scale of recovery measures.”

More than 90 per cent of countries have targeted 2030 for their commitment deadline, with the remainder targeting anywhere between 2025 and 2050.

There are still countries saying they will wait until 2022 to start implementing their contributions, while 40 to 70 per cent said they began on January 01 this year.

Incoming C.O.P.26 President Alok Sharma said the report should be a call to action, especially for countries with major greenhouse gas emissions.

"We must recognise that the window for action to safeguard our planet is closing fast.”



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