New climate targets to cut global warming by 0.2˚C

5th May 2021

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Jamie Hogue

Climate targets announced by the US and other rich nations in recent weeks have slashed 0.2˚C off projected global warming for the end of this century.

The latest forecast by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) suggests that global temperatures will rise by 2.4˚C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, down from a previous prediction of 2.6˚C, but still well above the 1.5˚C aspiration of the Paris Agreement.

This comes after president Biden pledged to slash US emissions in half within the next nine years at a summit last month, with the UK committing to a 78% reduction by 2035.

While the number of countries adopting or considering net-zero targets has now risen to 131 countries, covering 73% of global emissions, it is the updated 2030 goals that have contributed most to the drop in projected warming.

Niklas Höhne of the NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner organisation, said that the momentum towards net-zero emissions is now "unstoppable".

“But only if all governments flip into emergency mode and propose and implement more short-term action, global emissions can still be halved in the next 10 years as required by the Paris Agreement," he added.

The biggest contributors to the drop in projected warming are the US, the EU, China and Japan, although the latter two countries have not yet formally submitted a new 2030 target to the UNFCCC.

Just over 40% of the countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement, representing about half global emissions, and about a third of the global population, have submitted updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

The CAT’s final calculations on the 2030 emissions gap between Paris pledges and a 1.5˚C pathway show it’s been narrowed by 11-14%.

Despite these promising signs, the researchers highlighted how some countries are persisting with plans to build new coal-fired power plants, increasing uptake of natural gas, and adopting larger, less efficient personal vehicles.

Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, another CAT partner organisation, said: “It is clear the Paris Agreement is driving change, spurring governments into adopting stronger targets, but there is still some way to go, especially given that most governments don’t yet have policies in place to meet their pledges.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


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