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COP26 – carbon-cutting pledges may not be enough to stop a rise to 2.4 degrees Celsius

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global heating far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement.

IMF urges top polluters to adopt carbon price floor
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has targeted reducing emissions between one quarter to a half by the end of this decade - Copyright AFP/File Olivier DOULIERY
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has targeted reducing emissions between one quarter to a half by the end of this decade - Copyright AFP/File Olivier DOULIERY

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global heating far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement, despite a flurry of carbon-cutting pledges from governments at the UN COP26 summit.

This is the assessment from Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a collaboration of two organizations, Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute, the CAT has been providing independent analysis on climate and climate actions to policymakers since 2009.

In a press release on Tuesday, the CAT warned that the “good news” of the potential impact of announced net-zero targets was bringing false hope to the reality of the warming resulting from government inaction.

Temperature rises will top 2.4C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out. This forecast also comes out as the UK’s Met Office warns that a billion people could be affected by fatal heat and humidity if the global average temperature rises by 2C above pre-industrial levels.

“Even with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5°C,” CAT said, referring to the aspirational goal for warming since pre-industrial levels set down in the 2015 Paris Agreement, reports Reuters.

Humans have spent the past half-century tearing down and burning whole swathes of the Amazon to make way for cattle ranches and farmland — like here in a deforested area in Para state, northern Brazil. — © POOL/AFP Matt McClain

CAT also warns against assuming the longer-term pledges already made would be The problem is that most countries have not yet implemented the short-term policies or legislation needed to get on track for those longer-term goals, according to Yahoo News.

Bill Hare, the chief executive of Climate Analytics, one of the organizations behind CAT, told the Guardian: “We are concerned that some countries are trying to portray [Cop26] as if the 1.5C limit is nearly in the bag. But it’s not, it’s very far from it, and they are downplaying the need to get short-term targets for 2030 in line with 1.5C.”

The 197 parties to the 2015 Paris agreement were asked to come to Glasgow with two aims: a long-term goal of reaching global net-zero emissions around mid-century; and shorter-term national plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

These NDCs are supposed to peg emissions reductions by 2030. Scientists say greenhouse gas emissions must fall by about 45 percent this decade for global temperatures to stay within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels.

And while countries responsible for 90 percent of global emissions have signed up for net-zero goals, mostly by around 2050 for developed countries, rising to 2060 for China and 2070 for India, the NDCs for 2030 do not come close to matching up.

Sudan, which has been hit by unprecedented floods, would be the worst affected by climate change, with GDP plunging 32 percent by 2050, according to the study. — © AFP

“It’s great that countries have long-term net-zero targets, but they need to close the gap with short-term measures,” said Hare.

Hare also noted there was no contradiction among the varying assessments, published last week by Melbourne University and by the International Energy Agency, as they came to similar conclusions based on long-term goals.

CAT also found in its “optimistic scenario” that if all targets countries had promised were fully met, temperatures would rise by 1.8C.

The CAT release also says the long-term goals countries had set out lacked credibility, pointing to Brazil, Australia, and Russia. “We are concerned that there is no seriousness of purpose at Cop26. It’s very hypothetical, getting to net zero in 2050,” Hare said.

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “This new calculation is like a telescope trained on an asteroid heading for Earth. It’s a devastating report.”

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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