penguin climate change

Current Paris Agreement efforts are ‘woefully inadequate’

The latest environmental pledges from countries signed up to the Paris Agreement are enhancing global climate ambition, but not at a pace or scale consistent with achieving its goals, a study has found.

The Paris Agreement established three global goals – limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C, promote adaptation and resilience, and align financial flows with low-emissions, climate-resilient development.

Nationally determined contributions – or NDCs – are the foundation of the Agreement as they lay out which specific efforts countries are taking to meet it.

In their NDCs, each of the Paris Agreement’s 194 countries must lay out its aims to reduce emissions.

Although 139 have outlined new or updated NDCs as of September 2022, a report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) found them to be “woefully inadequate to avert the climate crisis”.

The report used newly available data from the open-source Climate Watch platform, which captures detailed snapshots of the NDCs following the latest updates and examines how they have evolved since the Paris Agreement entered into force.

The analysis suggests that the Paris Agreement is enhancing global climate ambition – but not at a pace or scale consistent with achieving its goals.

The latest NDCs aim to reduce 2030 emissions by an estimated 5.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent more than the initial NDCs. This represents a 7 per cent reduction from 2019 levels.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, however, emissions must decline by at least 43 per cent from 2019 levels to keep the 1.5°C goal within reach.

The study found that 77 per cent of NDCs include greenhouse gas reduction targets, 96 per cent include sector-specific mitigation targets and other measures, while a further 86 per cent include an adaptation component.

Since the Paris Agreement took effect, the vast majority of its parties have communicated updated NDCs designed to boost their climate action.

Relative to their predecessors, these new and updated NDCs aim to achieve deeper emissions reductions, tie more closely to planning and implementation processes, and document more thoroughly the finance required to support their implementation.

But the report finds that the massive gap that remains between the NDCs as they currently stand and what it will take to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement are overshadowing this progress.

The WRI said that NDCs must be strengthened across all dimensions, at a much faster pace, to keep these goals within reach.

“If the pace of improvement from 2016 to today continues, the world will not only miss the Paris Agreement goals, but it will miss them by a long shot,” the report said.

Taryn Fransen, a senior fellow at WRI and author of the report, said: “It really looks like we’re hitting a bit of a plateau."

She said that the economic and health benefits of reducing emissions, such as the build-out of the energy transition and reduced air pollution, can help build momentum to deeper cuts.

“Seeing those benefits can only help drive more ambitions, but it is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem,” she added.

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