Most countries failing on Paris Agreement pledges, report warns

Many governments are not on course to meet their Paris Agreement commitments, according to a damning new report which shows a host of countries across the globe are not yet willing or able to phase out coal.

The latest Climate Action Tracker (CAT) assesses 23 countries that have targets in place to keep global warming to the agreed 1.5C limit. It warns that “there is a need for most governments to scale up their targets by 2020 to bring them in line” with the boundary.

A growing number of countries are turning away from coal, with a new Power Past Coal Alliance – which includes the UK – of more than 20 countries aiming at phasing out its use. Britain has led this phase-out by decreasing its share of coal in electricity generation from around 40% to 7% in three years, and last month ran for three days without coal power. Meanwhile, Germany – Europe’s leading coal user – has just started a process to work out a phase-out deadline.

However, the tracker highlights that the likes of Japan, Indonesia, Philippines and Turkey are going ahead with coal plant construction plans, and it is warned that these will drive up emissions and risk “significant stranded assets”. Poland, this year’s host of the COP climate conference, continues to rely heavily on coal and is alone in the EU planning expansion.

Renewables drive

The update notes that renewable energy from wind and solar is developing so fast that the CAT had to revise down its projections for emissions in 2030 for Chile and the USA, despite the latter administration’s efforts in the opposite direction.

There are some standout new policies that have been announced, but not yet implemented. An example is New Zealand’s new Government, which has announced it will be at net-zero carbon by 2050 and will introduce a Zero Carbon Act. At the other end of the spectrum, countries like Australia have failed to put forward long-term targets and any process to ramp up their 2030 target.

The EU’s current policies are not sufficient to meet its interim target, the tracker warns. In recognition of this, the EU is discussing a new long-term emissions strategy, which is set to be put forward by members states by the first quarter of 2019.

On a domestic level, the UK Government’s recently unveiled Clean Growth Strategy has set out how the country intends to meet the fifth carbon budget, which seeks to limit the UK’s annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by the year 2032.

Despite a large drop in renewable energy investment in 2017, the UK climbed three places in a ranking of the world’s most attractive renewable energy markets for investors, thanks to a move towards subsidy-free solar PV.

George Ogleby

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