Report: Few countries have emissions targets that match their Paris Agreement pledges

Most countries signed up to the Paris Agreement, including the UK, have failed to set domestic targets that are at least as ambitious as their pledged contributions, according to a damning new report.

Governments will gather in Katowice, Poland for the COP24 climate change summit in Poland in December

Governments will gather in Katowice, Poland for the COP24 climate change summit in Poland in December

Research published today (29 October) shows that 58 of the parties to the historic Agreement have set economy-wide targets for emissions reductions in the domestic legislation. However, only 16 of these have set goals for cuts in that clearly match their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), analysis suggests.  

The report was carried out by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economic and Policy. In a joint statement, the authors said: “Our analysis reveals that countries are being slow to reproduce their NDC commitments as targets in national laws and policies.”

“Given that a gap already exists between the targets in the Paris Agreement and in countries’ NDCs, it is advisable that countries enhance the stringency and transparency of their current targets as they are expressed in their national laws and policies. This is an important step towards greater transparency over countries’ credibility to deliver on their targets.”

Countdown to COP24

The 16 countries with targets that are compatible with their NDCs are: Algeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, FYR Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga.

The report highlights that only six countries have included economy-wide targets beyond 2030 in their NDCs. “Explicitly setting a high-level economy-wide emission reduction target helps countries to ensure that sectoral targets and policies add up to the necessary action,” the report states.

Researchers claim that while it is possible to meet the target of a country’s NDC without setting an economy-wide target, other approaches such as sectoral targets present challenges as they are often overseen by different institutions and are expressed in different metrics.

The research has been submitted to the Talanoa Dialogue, which was created for countries to take stock of the gap between current pledges for climate change action and the Paris goals. Governments are set to enter the ‘political phase’ of the Dialogue at the COP24 summit in Poland in December.

Hollow pledges?

The research echoes a Climate Action Tracker (CAT) report earlier this year which showed that many governments are not on course to meet their Paris Agreement commitments. According to that study, a host of countries across the globe are not yet willing or able to phase out coal.

Domestically, there are signs that Britain could be set to boost its own contributions to the Paris Agreement. Earlier this month, the UK Government confirmed that it is seeking advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) on how best to bolster its carbon reduction targets and create a net-zero economy.

This came after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report warning that the global temperature increase will hit 1.5C by 2030, and 3-4C by the end of the century.

George Ogleby


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The Paris Agreement | low-carbon

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Climate change
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