UN: National climate commitments way off-track to deliver Paris Agreement

The UN has warned that current national commitments to deliver the Paris Agreement remain “insufficient” with global emissions only on course to reduce by 2% by 2030, compared to a scientific pathway of more than 40%.

UN: National climate commitments way off-track to deliver Paris Agreement

By 2030, emissions are projected to be 2% lower than 2019 levels

The UN has today (14 November) released its latest synthesis report that analyses the 195 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement. These commitments act as national targeted commitments to reduce emissions in line with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement.

The report warns that national climate plans are not on course to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, emphasising that much more action is needed from nations at COP28 and beyond to radically cut emissions.

The UN analysed the NDCs of all 195 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including 20 plans that are either new or have been updated as of September 2023. However, the report found that current commitments will deliver an increase in emissions by 8.8% compared to 2010 levels – a slight improvement compared to last year’s assessment of a 10.6% increase by 2030.

By 2030, emissions are projected to be 2% lower than 2019 levels, suggesting that the world will finally reach its peak in emissions.

In stark contrast, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends that emissions need to be cut by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. As such, there is a more than 40% deficit that nations need to address through updated climate action plans.

“Today’s report shows that governments combined are taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis. And it shows why governments must make bold strides forward at COP28 in Dubai, to get on track,” UN Climate Change’s executive secretary Simon Stiell said.

“This means COP28 must be a clear turning point. Governments must not only agree what stronger climate actions will be taken but also start showing exactly how to deliver them.”

Long-term action

The report warns that the “conditional elements” of NDCs, such as access to better financial resources, global collaboration, low-carbon technology transfer and capacity-building support, are not yet being implemented. This means that long-term decarbonisation remains aspirational rather than actionable.

Additionally, a second report published by the UN today has found that national developments of long-term emissions reduction plans beyond 2030 remain “uncertain”.

The research found that plans to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier could help reduce collective emissions by 63% by 2050 compared to 2019, provided all strategies are fully implemented on time.

However, the UN notes that “many net-zero targets remain uncertain” and “postpones” critical action that needs to take place now.

The UN states that these long-term strategies represent 75 nations committed to the Paris Agreement and account for 87% of the world’s GDP, 68% of global population, and 77% of emissions in 2019.

The UN has called on nations to revisit short and long-term targets ahead of the first global stocktake at COP28 next month. The stocktake is intended to inform the next round of climate action plans under the Paris Agreement, and it is expected that many NDCs will be strengthened as a result.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President Designate, said: “Today’s synthesis report of national climate plans underscores the need for us to act with greater ambition and urgency to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – there is simply no time left for delays.

“COP28 must be a historic turning point in this critical decade for Parties to seize the moment of the Global Stocktake to commit to raise their ambition and to unite, act and deliver outcomes that keep 1.5C within reach, while leaving no one behind.”

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