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UNFCCC urges nations to revise “unsatisfactory” Paris deal plans

04 August 2021 Cristina Brooks

With the time nearing for Paris Agreement parties to convene in Glasgow, major emitters China and India failed to meet expectations to submit emissions targets early, and other major emitters like Russia and Mexico set the bar too low.

All signatory countries must submit tougher emissions-cutting targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), before the 31 October start of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Raising the bar for these plans in 2020 and then every five years thereafter is required under the Paris Agreement, but many countries missed the 2020 deadline amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delayed the COP26 event by a year, announcing its start would mark a new 2021 deadline for those that had not submitted revised NDCs.

Last week, countries were due to submit NDCs for use in UNFCCC publications assessing Paris Agreement targets.

On the positive side, most of the parties had submitted NDCs (58% or 110) by then.

However, an analysis of a group of NDCs published by the Climate Action Tracker website created by two German groups found that 78 (41%) of 191 Paris Agreement parties failed to submit new targets. The world's largest and third-largest emitters, China and India, have not yet done so.

Of those that did submit new targets, countries failing to raise ambitions in their new targets included Australia, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Switzerland, and Vietnam. New Zealand submitted an unchanged target, but said it is conducting a review of it this year. Countries that raised ambitions in their new targets included the US, the UK, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Norway, Peru, and the UAE.

While the number of countries submitting NDCs by last week was higher than the number who met the original deadline, the number of submissions was "far from satisfactory," according to a UNFCCC 31 July statement.

The UNFCCC said the combined effect of emissions targets in the plans submitted was insufficient to prevent climate change.

"One of the key findings in the initial version of the synthesis report showed that collective efforts fall far short of what is required by science to limit a global temperature rise by the end of the century of 2 [degrees] C, let alone the desired objective of less than 1.5 [degrees] C," UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in the statement.

The level of emissions reduction pledged is voluntary, but it is hoped countries will present 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with net zero to ward off a catastrophic 2 degrees C temperature increase.

Unexpected and deadly heatwaves, such as the one seen in June in the Western US and Canada, and floods, such as those seen in July in Germany, present a "dire warning" that NDCs must be raised even further, the UNFCCC explained in the statement.

"We call on those countries that were unable to meet this deadline to redouble their efforts and honor their commitment under the Paris Agreement to renew or update their NDCs. I also encourage those who have submitted their NDCs to continue reviewing and enhancing their level of ambition. By doing so, they will contribute to the preservation of our planet and the well-being of people around the world," said Espinosa.

The US drummed up support for higher targets—and announced its own higher target alongside the UK—during President Joe Biden's Leaders' Summit on Climate on 22 April.

The US pledge of 50-52% GHG emissions cuts by 2030 doubled the ambition of its 2016 pledge, while the UK, which will co-host COP26 parties along with Italy, added to its pledge of 68% emissions reductions by 2030 with a pledge for 78% emissions reductions by 2035.

The NDCs submitted in time for COP26 are expected to include either 2025 or 2030 emissions reduction targets, according to the LSE's Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

This autumn, COP26 will be dominated by discussions about agreements, including some seen to block ramped-up Paris Agreement targets.

These include agreements on rules that govern international carbon trading and on the mobilization of $100 billion a year, initially pledged by wealthy states at COP15 in 2009, to pay for climate action in developing countries, the Institute wrote.

So far, wealthy countries combined had provided $70 billion in total, a 2020 UN study showed, even though lately states have been looking into carbon prices to obtain climate finance, according to BloombergNEF.

Posted 04 August 2021 by Cristina Brooks, Senior Journalist, Climate and Sustainability


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