A new report from UN Climate Change shows countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward but underlines that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5OCelsius by the end of the century. According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5OCelsius of warming by the end of the century.
The report also shows current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Last year’s analysis showed projected emissions would continue to increase beyond 2030. However, this year’s analysis shows that while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend science says is necessary this decade.
“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”
UN Climate Change analysed the climate action plans—known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—of 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including 24 updated or new NDCs submitted after the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26) up until 23 September 2022. Taken together, the plans cover 94.9% of total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.
“At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans,” said Stiell. “The fact that only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted since COP26 is disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”
This is UN Climate Change’s second such report, providing a critical update to last year’s inaugural NDC synthesis report. While the overall findings of the report are stark, there are glimmers of hope.
Most of the parties that submitted new or updated NDCs have strengthened their commitment to reducing or limiting greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and/or 2030, demonstrating increased ambition in addressing climate change.
A second UN Climate Change report on long-term low-emission development strategies, looked at countries’ plans to transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. The report indicated that these countries’ greenhouse gas emissions could be roughly 68% per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019, if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time.
Current long-term strategies account for 83% of the world’s GDP, 47% of global population in 2019, and around 69% of total energy consumption in 2019. This is a strong signal that the world is starting to aim for net-zero emissions.