According to a new UN Climate Change study, national climate action plans are still insufficient to restrict global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and meet the Paris Agreement's targets. Even with increasing efforts by some countries, the research indicates that much more action is required today to shift the world's emissions trajectory downward and avert the worst effects of climate change.
"Today's report demonstrates that governments are taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis." And it demonstrates why states must take strong steps forward at COP28 in Dubai to get back on track," said UN Climate Change Executive-Secretary Simon Stiell. "This means that COP28 must be a watershed moment." Governments must not just agree on stronger climate initiatives, but also begin demonstrating how they will be implemented."
Stiell emphasised that the end of the first global stocktake at COP28 is where governments can restore momentum to scale up their efforts across all sectors and get back on track to meet the Paris Agreement's goals. The stocktake is meant to inform the next round of Paris Agreement climate action plans (known as nationally determined contributions, or 'NDCs') to be submitted by 2025, clearing the path for quicker action.
"The UN Climate Change Global Stocktake report released this year clearly shows where progress is too slow." However, it also outlines the enormous number of instruments and solutions proposed by countries. "Billions of people expect their governments to pick up this toolbox and use it," Stiell added.
According to the latest evidence from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels. This is important if we are to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century and avoid the worst effects of climate change, such as more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves, and rainfall.
"Every fraction of a degree counts, but we're way off track." "We have until COP28 to change that," Stiell stated. "It's time to show the massive benefits now of boulder climate action: more jobs, higher wages, economic growth, opportunity and stability, less pollution and better health."
UN Climate Change analysed the Paris Agreement NDCs of 195 Parties, including 20 new or modified NDCs reported up until September 25, 2023. In keeping with the findings of last year's analysis, today's report reveals that, while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030 when compared to 2019 levels, they are still failing to demonstrate the rapid decreasing trend that science predicts is required this decade.
Current commitments will raise emissions by around 8.8% relative to 2010 levels if the most recent available NDCs are implemented. This is a little improvement over last year's estimate, which concluded that countries were on track to raise emissions by 10.6% by 2030 compared to 2010.
By 2030, emissions are expected to be 2% lower than in 2019, indicating that global emissions will peak during this decade. According to the report, "the conditional elements of the NDCs must be implemented, which is primarily dependent on access to enhanced financial resources, technology transfer and technical cooperation, and capacity-building support; as well as the availability of market-based mechanisms."
"By planning ahead of time with the Global Stocktake, we can make COP28 a game changer." "It will also serve as a springboard for a two-year climate action surge," Stiell said. "We must restore trust in the Paris process." That includes meeting all obligations, particularly those related to financing, which is a major enabler of climate action. And ensuring that we are improving global resilience to climate effects."
"Today's synthesis report of national climate plans underscores the need for us to act with greater ambition and urgency to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement - there is simply no time left for delays," said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President Designate. "COP28 must be a historic turning point in this critical decade for Parties to seize the moment of the Global Stocktake to commit to raise their ambition and to unite, act and deliver outcomes that keep 1.5C within reach, while leaving no one behind."
"NDCs remain the cornerstone of our shared vision of achieving the Paris targets," COP27 President and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry remarked. "In Sharm El-Sheikh, leaders discussed a number of initiatives to help us achieve that goal, as well as to help the Global South adapt their economies accordingly." We must maintain our momentum since there is no time to waste or lose sight of the goal."
"It is essential while we pursue our undertaking to continue seeking climate Justice and assist the Global South, who contribute the least in emissions yet bear the brunt of the most vicious effects of climate change, to not only survive but also transition into more sustainable economy through just transition pathways," Shoukry said in a press release.
A second UN Climate Change report, also released today, looked at countries' intentions to transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. According to the paper, if all long-term initiatives are fully implemented on time, these countries' greenhouse gas emissions may be around 63% lower in 2050 than in 2019.
Current long-term policies (representing 75 Paris Agreement Parties) account for 87% of global GDP, 68% of global population in 2019, and approximately 77% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. This is a significant indication that the world is moving towards net-zero emissions.
However, the report adds that many net-zero targets remain unknown and postpone essential action that must be taken immediately. This year's UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12.