Commitments to reduce methane emissions, cut carbon and protect forests at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will not limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, according to a study published on Tuesday. Even if countries meet their short-term and long-term goals, the temperature will rise above 2 degrees Celsius.
The main goal of COP26 is to strengthen the arrangements made at the 2015 Paris climate summit, when for the first time all countries signed an agreement to combat global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was then agreed that all parties would “continue their efforts” to limit the increase in world temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels and keep this increase “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius.
Currently, according to various calculations, the average temperature on Earth is already 1.1-1.2 degrees C higher than before the beginning of the industrial era, and according to the report of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published before COP26, if no further agreements are agreed emission reductions, the increase in temperature in the world by the end of this century will amount to 2.7 degrees Celsius in relation to the beginning of the industrial era.
The UK’s national meteorological service, the Met Office, warns that if the global average temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius, one billion people will find themselves in a zone of extreme, life-threatening heatwaves.
The announced commitments will not stop the temperature rise
During the first week of COP26, a number of agreements were announced, for example, Fr. halting deforestation, departure from coal if limiting methane emissions. However, the Climate Action Tracker analysis showed that some of these commitments have already been addressed in national emission reduction plans submitted to the United Nations. This means that these commitments will actually have a smaller impact on global warming than previously claimed.
According to Climate Action Tracker, if all short-term commitments announced during COP26, i.e. by 2030, are met, the average temperature increase by 2100 will amount to 2.4 degrees Celsius, and if short and long-term commitments are met, then the average temperature increase by the end of the century will reach 2.1 degrees Celsius.
Climate Action Tracker is a joint initiative of three German-based analytical institutions that monitors actions taken by governments to contain global warming.
The analysis also takes into account the most optimistic scenario, where countries meet all commitments contained in their national plans submitted to the UN, as well as all announcements from the climate summit, on time and in full. But even in that case, the average temperature in 2100 would be 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than before the beginning of the industrial era.
This is the most serious warning yet that the goals of the two-week conference in Glasgow may not be met.
As indicated, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be about twice as high as the level needed to maintain global warming within 1.5 degrees C.
While the wave of announced net zero emission targets seems to be great news, we can’t sit back and relax. All countries must urgently look at what else they can do, said Professor Niklas Hohne of the NewClimate Institute in Cologne, one of the Climate Action Tracker institutions.
The analysis noted that most of the promises made at COP26 are about achieving net-zero emissions in the long term, e.g. the United States announced that it would meet this target in 2050, China in 2060, and India in 2070.
However, in line with the pace at which global climate change is progressing, by 2030 the world will approach 1.5 degrees C warming, which is why short-term emission reduction targets are important, and few countries have so far presented them – emphasized in the analysis .
“Serious credibility gap”
“ The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with the net zero targets: there is almost one degree centigrade of the gap between governments’ current policies and their net zero emissions targets, ” said Bill Hare, head of Berlin-based Climate Analytics, which contributes to Climate Action Tracker .
“ It’s very good for leaders to say they have a zero net target, but if they don’t have plans to achieve it, and their 2030 targets are as low as they are in many cases, then frankly, those zero-emission targets net are just empty words, not real climate action. There is a serious credibility gap in Glasgow, he added.
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