Climate pledges fall short, says UN

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres.
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres.PHOTO: ST FILE

BRUSSELS • National promises to cut emissions as part of preparations for a United Nations (UN) summit at year-end would cap global warming at the unacceptably high level of 3 deg C, the UN climate boss said on Tuesday.

The talks in Paris, starting on Nov 30, will seek a global deal to curb warming, which scientists say needs to be limited to 2 deg C to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels.

UN executive secretary Christiana Figueres said that so far, 62 nations had submitted promises, covering around 70 per cent of global emissions. The UN has said it will add up the pledges by the start of next month and issue a report by Nov 1.

But Ms Figueres said it was already a good "guestimate" that the pledges, known as INDCs - Intended Nationally Determined Contributions - would equate to 3 degrees of warming compared with pre-industrial times.

Aware of the shadow cast by the 2009 Copenhagen summit, the failed last attempt to reach a global climate deal, European Union officials and the UN stress Paris is a step, not the end-result.

The talks in Paris, starting on Nov 30, will seek a global deal to curb warming, which scientists say needs to be limited to 2 deg C to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels.

Ms Figueres told reporters in Belgium she wanted it to be clear that the INDCs were not the magic route to 2 degrees, set as a target by the Copenhagen Accord, from the current trajectory of 4 to 5 degrees. "What the INDCs will do is mark a very substantial departure from business-as-usual," she said. "Is 3 degrees acceptable? No."

The UN's plan to issue the INDC report is a departure from the early hopes of the most vulnerable nations and the EU for a formal review to put pressure on the laggards before the conference.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2015, with the headline 'Climate pledges fall short, says UN'. Print Edition | Subscribe