Nations' pledges to cut emissions 'not enough'

So far, countries accounting for about two-thirds of greenhouse pollution have filed plans on curbing their emissions with the UN. But those efforts will not be nearly enough, researchers say.
So far, countries accounting for about two-thirds of greenhouse pollution have filed plans on curbing their emissions with the UN. But those efforts will not be nearly enough, researchers say. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Researchers say plans submitted so far won't limit global warming to 2 deg C threshold

BONN • Pledges from dozens of nations to rein in carbon emissions are not enough so far to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to four European research centres.

Plans submitted by China, the US, the EU and other top polluters will not limit global warming to the 2 deg C threshold that scientists recommend, the Climate Action Tracker coalition said yesterday.

Diplomats are meeting in Bonn this week to continue working on the landmark climate change deal that over 190 nations expect to complete in Paris in December. At the heart of the pact are plans from individual nations to control their own greenhouse gas pollution.

But those efforts will not be nearly enough, the researchers said, in one of the first major analyses of the pledges submitted. Hitting a lower, 1.5 deg C target, as some scientists urge, looks even less likely.

"It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2 deg C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5 deg C beyond reach," said Mr Bill Hare, chief executive officer of Potsdam, Germany-based Climate Analytics.

Nations must either ramp up their emissions promises before Paris or reach an agreement that ensures countries will be required to come back with deeper cuts.

To stay under the 2 deg C threshold, which scientists say is necessary to avoid worst-case scenario global warming, greenhouse gas emissions would have to drop from about 50 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) per year today, to 39-43 GtCO2e in 2025 and 36-45 GtCO2e in 2030, they say.

Containing warming to an even safer 1.5 deg C would require emissions of 38 GtCO2e in 2025 and 32 GtCO2e in 2030. The world has already warmed up by 0.8 deg C - nearly half the 2 deg C target.

Participants in the UN talks have acknowledged the Paris pledges will not be enough on their own. A major goal of the talks, they say, is to come up with a system that requires countries to make deeper contributions over time.

So far, countries accounting for about two-thirds of greenhouse pollution have filed plans with the United Nations. China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas source, has pledged to peak its emissions by about 2030, and the United States is aiming for a 28 per cent reduction by 2025. The 28-member European Union is planning to curb emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030.

The shortfall is partly due to "inadequate" plans from Russia and Canada, two of the top 10 emitters, said the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Several other nations accounting for almost a fifth of global emissions, led by India, Brazil and Iran, have yet to submit their plans. In most cases, those that have submitted proposals do not have policies in place to reach their goals, the researchers said. The exceptions are the EU and China.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2015, with the headline 'Nations' pledges to cut emissions 'not enough''. Print Edition | Subscribe