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‘Credibility, action and commitment gap’ in COP26 climate pledges

Despite the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction pledges made so far at the UN COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, the world is still heading for at least 2.4°C of warming, according to the latest analysis from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

As a result, COP26 has ‘a massive credibility, action and commitment gap’, it says.

CAT claims that with all target pledges, including those made in Glasgow, global GHG emissions in 2030 will still be around twice as high as necessary for the Paris Agreement 1.5°C limit. Reporting that stalled momentum from leaders and governments on their short-term targets has narrowed the 2030 emissions gap by only 15–17% over the last year, it says that with 2030 pledges alone, without longer-term targets, global temperature increase will be at 2.4°C in 2100.

Furthermore, CAT claims that the projected warming from current policies – what countries are actually doing – is even higher, at 2.7°C, with only a 0.2°C improvement over the last year and nearly 1°C above the net zero announcements governments have made.

‘The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net zero goals – there’s a nearly 1°C gap between government current policies and their net zero goals,’ comments Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organisation. ‘It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.’

Given this situation, in the final stages of the Glasgow summit, governments need to focus on closing the credibility gap, states CAT. This can only come from increasing the 2030 mitigation ambition, and closing the finance gap, which is essential for many developing countries to make the big jump needed in reducing their emissions to 1.5°C compatible levels, it says.

‘If the massive 2030 gap cannot be narrowed in Glasgow, governments must agree to come back next year, by COP27, with new and stronger targets,’ says Professor Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, the other CAT partner organisation. ‘Today’s leaders need to be held to account for this massive 2030 gap. If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5°C limit may well be lost.’

The CAT findings are in sharp contrast to the optimism reported by many COP26 observers, including the International Energy Agency (IEA) which recently
forecast that all climate pledges to date, if met in full and on time, would be enough to hold the rise in global temperatures to 1.8°C by 2100. This seemed like huge progress from the 2.7°C that the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) had announced at the start of the conference.

More than 140 countries, covering 90% of global emissions have announced carbon neutrality targets around mid-century, with China's net zero goal slightly further out at 2060 and India's at 2070. According to the CAT, these goals are giving ‘false hope’. It argues that while 1.8°C might indeed be possible if every country implemented their long-term net zero targets, the reality is that without a serious plan for 2030 most of the longer-term goals will not be realised.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Subjects: Policy and Governance Climate change

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