Published on November 16th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Gap In Global Progress Towards Paris Agreement 2°C Target Looms Large Despite Minor Improvements
November 16th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
The Climate Action Tracker has published updated estimates of global progress towards the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and aims at keeping temperature increases below 2°C and, despite minor improvements in India and China, the gap between current policies and 2°C still looms large.
The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and NewClimate Institute, published its updated estimates of global progress towards the Paris Climate Agreement on Wednesday, detailing “some positive and negative findings.” However, the main takeaway is that we are nowhere near the policies necessary to keep warming below 2°C.
The good news is that the CAT detected “significant improvement” on climate action globally, despite the significant rollbacks occurring in the United States due to the arrival of the Trump Administration. Specifically, the CAT detected a 0.2°C improvement in climate action since 2016, reducing projected warming by 2100 to only 3.4°C. This is the first time since the CAT began back in 2009 that it has identified a significant improvement in implementing climate policy action over a year, and this time the improvements were primarily in China and India.
According to this year’s CAT, current policies are projected to reduce emissions by 1.7 GtCO2e in 2030 compared to estimates in 2016. However, this means that the size of the gap between current policy pathways and the Paris Agreement-compatible benchmark is estimated to be 24–27 GtCO2e in 2030. If we factor in planned but un-implemented policies alongside a continuation of recent developments, projected emissions would be 4.1 GtCO2e lower in 2030 compared to last year, leading to a warming estimate of 3.1°C.
“Over the last year, governments have made substantial steps in improving climate policies, and this has had a discernible effect on global emissions projections,” explained Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute. “For example, in the face of increasingly cheaper renewable energy, many are now actively moving away from coal. Electric mobility is also gaining momentum.”
“It is clear who the leaders are here: in the face of US inaction, China and India are stepping up,” added Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “However, both need to review — and strengthen — their Paris commitments: our projections show they will meet them much earlier than 2030.”
The CAT also highlighted the fact that “CO2 emissions have flatted in the last few years, but it is too soon to call a peaking of global [greenhouse gas] emissions, which needs to happen by around 2020 to meet the Paris Agreement’s warming limits.” As with any report published in the next week or so, it will be interesting to see what assumptions are made about greenhouse gas emissions levels, considering the recent research published by the University of East Anglia (UAE) and the Global Carbon Project (GCP) which found that emissions will grow by 2% in 2017 after three stable years of little to no growth.
Unfortunately, the CAT also found that, due substantially to the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw the country from the Paris Climate Agreement, “there has been a significant deterioration in the effect of Paris Agreement commitments (NDCs)” of about 0.3°C.
Finally, although CAT found that the 2030 emissions gap between current policies and Paris Agreement compatible emission levels had narrowed slightly, the NDC commitment gap has widenened, primarily due to the aforementioned US inaction. China, the European Union, and India have either reduced or slowed their emissions growth, but this does not yet lead to a peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The CAT assessed 32 separate countries which, together, account for approximately 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and found that the vast majority of NDCs are not in line with a fair contribution to meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term warming goal. Further, 16 of those assessed are projected to exceed their already insufficient NDCs, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
“Countries that are clearly on track to overachieve their targets have the opportunity to strengthen them to reflect real emissions development. On the other hand, there are also many governments who have set a low bar for their climate action, but are not even meeting that,” said Yvonne Deng of Ecofys, a Navigant company. “2018 is the right moment for all of these governments to step up climate action.”