Emissions commitments from business and authorities ‘insufficient’ to meet Paris goals

Even if the 2,175 companies and 8,419 cities, states and regions to have made emission-cutting commitments achieve their pledges in full, the result will not be sufficient to realise a 2C trajectory in line with the Paris Agreement.

That is the key conclusion from a new joint report from Data-Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and CDP, which reveals that annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will only be between 1.5 and 2.2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) lower than 2017 levels by 2030 if cities, states, regions and business collaborate to fully implement their current climate goals on time.

Released on Wednesday (29 August), the report reveals that by fully implementing the actions needed to reach their respective climate goals, US-based cities, regions and corporations could provide at least half of the emissions reductions necessary to achieve the nation’s Paris pledge. These collective actions could reduce emissions by between 670 and 810 MtCO2e annually by 2030, the document states.

As for the European Union, the report claims that if all stakeholders met their own emissions aims, the bloc’s annual GHG emissions would be reduced by between 230 and 445 MtCO2e within the same timeframe, removing the emissions equivalent of Italy from its environmental footprint.

But even with these reductions – compounded by those predicted to be achieved across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East over the next 12 years – the world is still off-track to limit global warming to 2C, the report warns.  

“The potential of these commitments to help the world avoid dangerous climate change is clear – the key is now to ensure that these commitments are really implemented,” Data-Driven Yale director and report co-author Angel Hsu, said.

“What our report shows is many actors are signing up to take actions, but their ambition and ability to move us faster and closer to reach the Paris climate goals in time is limited. What’s needed now is the financing, policies, and support to urgently realise these efforts.”

Because the report only acknowledges recorded, quantified commitments, its authors note that the total global emission-reduction activities of sub-national actors could generate larger emission reductions than it predicts. However, it additionally speculates that global GHG reductions could be smaller than anticipated if recorded actions change with the pace of weak government policies.

Stark warning

The report is the latest research claiming that the world is off-track to meet key climate aims, after data from the World Meteorological Organisation recently revealed that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rose in 2016 to hit a level not seen for more than more than three million years

For example, the United Nations (UN) last year warned that there is an “unacceptable” gap between national pledges and the emissions reductions required to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate targets.

The UN report revealed that national pledges would only deliver a third of the fall in emissions required by 2030. Nonetheless, the UN believes that stronger national pledges combined with technology investments in key sectors such as agriculture, energy and transport could close the 13.5 GtCO2e emissions gap between national commitments and a 2C trajectory.

Sarah George

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