G20 must strengthen climate targets if Paris Agreement is to be met

New research has warned that despite the rise in national net-zero targets, the G20 is on course to bulldoze past both the 1.5C and 2C pathways of the Paris Agreement.

Some G20 nations - which account for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions –  are on course to exceed emissions levels in 2019

Some G20 nations - which account for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions –  are on course to exceed emissions levels in 2019

New research published today (14 October) in the annual Climate Transparency Report finds that G20 nations need to urgently ramp up climate commitments if the world is to meet the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement.

The research found that despite net-zero commitments and updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets from G20 nations, the world looks set to warm by 2.4C by the end of the century.

Some G20 nations - which account for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions –  are on course to exceed emissions levels in 2019. The research warns that Argentina, China, India and Indonesia all look set to record emissions increases.

The research found that, as of August 2021, 14 G20 members had announced net-zero targets by mid-century, covering 61% of global GHG emissions. If fully implemented, these targets would help in combatting an existing emissions gap, but not quickly enough.

Current submitted NDCs look set to leave a “significant emissions gap of about 23 GtCO2e from a 1.5°C pathway” with the G20 accounting for two-thirds of that gap.

If all G20 members strengthened their 2030 NDCs along a 1.5C compatible pathway, the research suggests that this gap could be narrowed by 64%. This, in turn, will push the world around 75% of the way to limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Some of the world's largest businesses, including Unilever, Netflix and Volvo, have written to the G20 calling on nations to strengthen climate targets and deliver on climate finance commitments in the build-up to COP26.

Through the We Mean Business coalition, hundreds of businesses have written to the G20 calling for heightened climate action. The businesses involved represent more than £1.8trn in revenue and employ more than 8.5 million people worldwide. The signatories, which include Unilever, Netflix, Volvo Cars, Iberdrola and Natura & Co span sectors from power and transport to fashion and construction.

The letter calls for the immediate end to new coal power development, while financing plans should be introduced to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2030 for developed nations and 2040 for the rest of the world. It also calls on the G20 to strengthen Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in line with at least halving global emissions by 2030.

The report arrives just days after the new landmark report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA  has published this year's World Energy Outlook, revealing that the world is seeing the second-largest year-on-year increase in CO2 emissions on record post-pandemic.

The Outlook warns that a “large rebound” in fossil fuel use has driven a steep year-on-year increase. Around two-thirds of the public spending announced as part of national Covid-19 recovery packages did not go to clean energy, and demand is beginning to reach pre-pandemic levels as lockdown restrictions lift across the globe.

The IEA had predicted this would be likely, without a step-change in policy and investment, in spring. Summer saw the Agency concluding that global emissions are likely to hit record highs in 2023 and continue rising thereafter, due to national and international failures to follow through on green recovery rhetoric.

UK preparedness

Also published today is the world’s first-ever Net Zero Readiness Index (NZRI). Published by KPMG, it ranks nations on the progress in reducing emissions and an ability to achieve net-zero by 2050.

The UK has been ranked as the leading G7 nation, with only Norway judged to be better prepared. Sweden, Denmark and Germany made up the rest of the top five.

While the Climate Change Committee has warned that the UK looks set to miss out on future carbon budgets, it is still faring better than other nations.

KPMG’s head of energy and natural resources Simon Virley said: “The UK has made great strides on decarbonisation, particularly in the power sector, over the past decade and we are now halfway to net-zero.  We also have a strong political consensus and a world-leading framework for tracking progress put in place by the Climate Change Act. 

“However, as the Climate Change Committee has said, there are many challenges ahead and the next phase of decarbonisation is going to be far more difficult than the progress made over the past decade. The focus now has to be on delivery against the ambitious targets the Government has set.”

Matt Mace



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