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Global Progress To Halt Emissions Rise Is “Stalling” Amidst “Woefully Inadequate” National Targets

The Climate Action Tracker published its mid-year update of government action to address the rise in greenhouse gas emissions and concluded that the current climate crisis demands more government action as global progress is “stalling” and many countries retain “woefully inadequate” national targets. 

The Climate Action Tracker published its mid-year update of government action to address the rise in greenhouse gas emissions and concluded that the current climate crisis demands more government action as global progress is “stalling” and many countries retain “woefully inadequate” national targets.

According to the latest update from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) — an independent scientific think-tank run by Climate Analytics, NewClimate Institute, and Ecofys — governments around the world must begin to take bold action to address the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. However, as much as governments should be taking bold action, they are not.

“We are seeing an increasing number of Governments beginning to talk about net zero emissions by or before 2050, but we also know that we must halve global emissions by 2030 in order to keep the 1.5˚C goal alive, and most governments are nowhere near the action they need to take,” said Professor Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute.

“Public concern is rising fast, with global movements like Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion pushing governments toward action as people take to the streets. As we turn from climate change to a climate crisis, the public priority is rising, and we expect Governments to take bold action.”

“Emissions keep rising and impacts are being felt all around the world, with developing countries experiencing the brunt of these impacts – recent examples include devastating floods and loss of life in East Africa caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai, and record 50˚C temperatures in India” added Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

In 2018, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions reached historic highs with more than a third of emissions coming from coal, followed by emissions from the fastest-growing source of CO2 emissions, natural gas, which grew 4.6% between 2017 and 2018. Unsurprisingly, the United States, India, and China were responsible for 85% of the global rise in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past year. To make matters worse, CAT finds that renewable energy additions have stagnated after 20 years of strong growth.

Image Credit: Climate Action Tracker

“Governments need to seriously step up their game,” added Bill Hare. “Yet we are seeing countries with ‘critically insufficient’ Paris targets so weak they’ll be met without doing anything – Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and showing no signs of improvement. And there are others– for example Brazil and Australia and the USA, who are walking backwards from climate action.”

Image Credit: Climate Action Tracker

The only country to have modified its position in CAT’s June 2019 Update as compared from December is Canada, which moved from having “Highly Insufficient” policies and targets to only having “Insufficient” ones. According to CAT’s country-specific assessment, Canada’s upcoming October election will “determine Canada’s direction” as the current Federal Government, “playing catch-up on climate, is attempting to implement a number of policies in the face of pushback from some provinces, especially on the mandatory carbon pricing system.”

Globally, according to CAT, there are only three key governments — the European Union, China, and India — which are likely to meet or exceed their Paris targets. However, with this in mind, each of these three countries has plenty of room to substantially increase their climate ambitions, and according to CAT, they haven’t reached the “highest possible ambition” as stated in the Paris Agreement.

“Although the overall picture is not good there are signs of progress with a number of countries moving forward, including Costa Rica, Chile and the UK with new zero emissions targets and other actions,” said Hare. “On a positive note, the growth in electricity produced from renewables grew 7% from 2017 to 2018, more than twice as fast that from fossil fuel-sourced power.”

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