Global NDCs to cut emissions by less than 1%, UN warns

1st March 2021

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Fiona Skelding

Global greenhouse gas emissions will fall by less than 1% by 2030, when compared to 2010 levels, under current ambitions contained in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the UN has warned.

This is despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggesting that a 45% reduction is needed to restrict global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

After analysing the latest NDCs submitted by countries representing 30% of global emissions, the UN said that there remains a “significant gap” between longer-term carbon neutrality and national ambitions.

“It is vitally important that we get more clarity on how countries are planning to fulfil those longer-term commitments”, said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change.

“If we want to stand any chance of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030 and embark on the road towards carbon neutrality around mid-century, transformative decisions need to be taken now.”

The latest analysis also suggests that many developing countries remain in urgent need of support to implement climate action, including greater access to green technologies.

However, it reveals that the quality of NDCs is improving, specifically around data on mitigation targets.

Implementation is starting to be addressed much more comprehensively, including links to relevant national planning, regulatory and legislative processes, and to the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition, a significant number of countries have included adaptation in their NDCs and provided information on their climate vulnerabilities and measures to address these.

More countries are also reporting on adaptation action and economic diversification plans with co-benefits, such as climate-smart agriculture, reducing food waste and vertical farming.

The UN said that its findings are a “snapshot, not a full picture” of the NDCs, as COVID-19 posed significant challenges for many nations with respect to completing their submissions in 2020.

“By submitting strong NDCs before COP26, countries can raise their ambition and translate their 2050 targets into milestones on the way and turn far-away targets into immediate action,” Espinosa continued.

“COP26 also provides an opportunity for developed nations to deliver their pledge to jointly mobilise $100bn annually to developing nations. Developing countries need the support for their climate actions that they have been promised.”

Image credit: iStock


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