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Climate Plans of Major Economies Failed to Meet Paris Agreement Aims, Says Report

Among the defaulters of the July 31 deadline for pledges are India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while China announced a new target which is yet to be submitted formally.

While the world is facing the wrath of climate change and scientists are repeatedly pushing for aggressive measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, major economies don't seem to be implementing effective climate policies, at least to meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement. This analysis was published by an international watchdog, Climate Action Tracker (CAT). As per the study, none of the G20 countries has any effective climate plan to help reach the Paris Agreement goals.

CAT tracked the policies of 36 countries along with 27 nations of the European Union. The countries that the study analysed, account for over 80% of the world's emissions. CAT found that all of these were off track to meet the Paris Agreement goals of restricting global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level.

The study also included some countries that have low emission levels and found that Gambia was the only country compatible with the 1.5-degree Celsius rise in temperature.

The 2015 Paris Agreement brought together over 190 countries that agreed to limit global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, the ideal being 1.5 degrees. The 2 degree Celsius is a critical mark for some ecosystems of the world and also the threshold for inviting more catastrophic weather events.

Niklas Höhne, a founding member of a partner institute of CAT, commented in a statement to CNN: "In May, after the Climate Leaders' Summit and the Petersburg dialogue, we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments. But since then, there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case."

The CAT report found that six countries, including the UK, have favourable climate policies. Their policies are not yet consistent with the 1.5 degree target. Still, there remains scope for improvement, which can lead them to achieve the target. However, even though the UK's targets are in line with the 1.5-degree target, the country's policies are far from achieving the benchmark.

The climate plans of the US, European Union and Japan are grossly insufficient to achieve 1.5 degree goal. Interestingly, the report said that while their domestic targets are well in line, their international policies are not.

Importantly, CAT had once deemed the US as ‘critically insufficient’, and it was during the leadership of Donald Trump when the country withdrew from the Paris Agreement.  The US's emission control target at the domestic level has now been nearly sufficient. However, CAT has ranked the country insufficient as per its capability and responsibility.

The Paris Agreement made the countries submit their pledges of cutting emissions, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). All signatories were supposed to submit their NDCs by July 31, this year, but more than 70 countries are yet to update.

Among the defaulters of the July deadline are India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while China announced a new target which is yet to be submitted formally.

Among the countries that submitted within July 31, many have not increased their pledges. For example, Brazil and Mexico have submitted the targets similar to those in 2015.

"Of particular concern are Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam: they have failed to lift ambition at all, submitting the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than those they put forward in 2015. These countries need to rethink their choice,” said Bill Hare, another CAT partner.

Coal use remains a massive concern, as India and China are not readily withering away from coal burning. Similarly, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea also seem to have no plan to curb coal use in the future.

Coal is also a big concern as this fossil fuel creates the most emissions. Australia will mine coal past 2030 along with its investment in natural gas exploration and infrastructure, which is of 'particular concern' as per the CAT report.

However, blue hydrogen, a fuel based on natural gas, can also be dangerous. Hare warned against developing blue hydrogen as an alternative to other fossil fuels.

"Gas is a fossil fuel, and any investment into gas today risks becoming a stranded asset. And while interest in green hydrogen has grown exponentially, there is still a large number of hydrogen projects in the pipeline where it's produced from gas. Hydrogen produced from gas still produces carbon and is inconsistent with reaching net zero," Hare said in his statement.

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