The global temperature increase is heading to at least 2.4˚C, Climate Action Tracker (CAT) warned Tuesday in its annual global update, as countries announce commitments to limit warming by 1.5˚C at the 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) talks in Glasgow, Scotland.
The CAT’s update shows that the gap between actions and commitments is growing alarmingly.
With all target pledges, including those made in Glasgow, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be around twice as high as necessary for the 1.5°C limit. CAT maintained that the so-called “good news” of the potential impact of announced net zero targets are bringing false hopes to the reality of warming resulting from government inaction.
The stalled momentum from leaders and government on their short-term goals had led to narrowing the 2030 emissions gap by 15-17% over the last year.
Without longer-term targets, the 2030 pledges will lead to a global temperature rise at 2.4°C in 2100, it said.
The projected warming from current policies, what countries are actually doing, is even higher at 2.7˚C with only a 0.2˚C improvement over the last year and nearly one degree above the net zero announcements governments have made.
If all net zero pledges are fully implemented, the CAT’s “optimistic' projection showed that the global warming increase could be down to 1.8˚C by 2100.
However, the “optimistic” projection is a long way from the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C limit, with peak 21st-century warming of 1.9˚C and about a 16% chance of exceeding warming of 2.4˚C.
In line with Paris Agreement, the aim is to limit global warming by 1.5°C by the end of the century, a level which the United Nations Secretary-General called 'the only liveable future for humanity”.
Global warming has already increased by over 1°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
- Small part of net zero pledges rated acceptable
According to Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organization, the vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net zero goals with nearly a one-degree gap between government current policies and their net zero goals.
“It is all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap,' he said.
Since the beginning of COP26 with the leaders’ summit on Nov. 1, more governments have announced net zero goals, which at present now cover 90% of global emissions
However, the CAT said its analysis on 40 countries’ net zero goals, covering 85% of emissions, showed that only a small number, covering 6% of global emissions, are rated acceptable and have actual plans in place to reach the targets.
'While the wave of net zero targets appears like remarkable news, we cannot sit back and relax. In the situation where, even with the new pledges, global emissions in 2030 will still be twice as high as required for 1.5°C. All countries must urgently look at what more they can do,” said Niklas Hohne, a founding partner of NewClimate Institute, the other CAT partner organization.
The CAT urged governments in the final stages of the Glasgow summit to focus on closing the credibility gap that could only come from increasing the 2030 mitigation, ambition and closing the finance gap.
'If the massive 2030 gap cannot be narrowed in Glasgow, governments must agree to come back next year, by COP27, with new and stronger targets. Today’s leaders need to be held to account for this massive 2030 gap,” Hohne said. 'If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5°C limit may well be lost.
- Gas and coal drive inaction
According to the analysis, climate inaction mainly derives from the gas and coal sectors.
'Coal must be out of the power sector by 2030 in the OECD, and globally by 2040, and in spite of political momentum and the clear benefits beyond climate change mitigation, there is still a huge amount of coal in the pipeline,” Hare said.
He noted that the biggest coal countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam need to reduce their coal pipelines but advised against switching to gas as an alternative.
'We are seeing the rise of a gas industry pushing its product as an alternative, still supported by many governments. We cannot let fossil fuels be replaced with more fossil fuels,” Hare said.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya and Gulsen Cagatay in Glasgow, Scotland