The Climate Action Tracker published new assessments of 23 of the 32 countries it regularly tracks, showing that some countries are taking steps forward, while at the same time, other countries are taking steps backwards, risking significant stranded assets as they continue to thermal coal expansion.
Despite moments of progress made since November, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has determined that most governments it is tracking are not on track towards meeting their Paris Climate Agreement commitments — agreements that, in many cases, are inherently insufficient to keep global warming to the agreed upon 1.5˚C warming limit. CAT’s assessments yield one striking observation — and governments around the world need to scale up both their policies and their climate targets to bring them more in line with the Paris Agreement.
A few highlights took a little of the doom and gloom away, including the rapid development of wind and solar energy which has happened at such a rate that CAT had to revise its projections for emissions in 2030 downward for the United States — despite the best efforts of the new Administration — and for Chile, where record low renewable energy costs are paving a way to great adaptation and the decline of coal. CAT also highlighted the development of exciting new policies that are yet to be implemented, including New Zealand’s new policy to be at net zero carbon by 2050 and the impending introduction of a Zero Carbon Act.
CAT also pointed to the increasing number of countries which are beginning to shift away from coal, highlighting last November’s launch of the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance‘ by the government’s of Canada and the UK. The Alliance is dedicated to phasing out the use of coal, and the two founding countries were joined by 9 other nations. Meanwhile, CAT also highlighted the April decision by the United Nations International Maritime Organization to adopt a commitment of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the shipping sector by at least 50% by 2050.
But the lion’s share of CAT’s analysis focused on the negative, in particular, the seeming unwillingness or inability of some countries to give up coal.
Countries like Japan, Indonesia, and Turkey are all still continuing with coal plant construction. China is halting coal plant construction across the country, but coal still accounts for about two-thirds of electricity generation in the country. More striking is the realization that this year’s host of COP24, Poland, still relies heavily on coal and is the only EU country to be planning more coal expansion.
Meanwhile, countries like South Korea, Chile, and Germany are taking first steps towards phasing out coal, but there still needs to be more concrete steps towards implementation. Conversely, countries like the United States and Australia are hell-bent on moving forward with coal generation, despite overwhelming evidence that renewables are the favored technology.
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