Global action is ‘very far’ from what’s needed to avert climate chaos

All eyes are on an international climate summit that the White House is set to host April 22
Last Updated 26 February 2021, 17:31 IST

The global scientific consensus is clear: Emissions of planet-warming gases must be cut by nearly half by 2030 if the world is to have a good shot at averting the worst climate catastrophes.

The global political response has been underwhelming so far.

New climate targets submitted by countries to the United Nations would reduce emissions by less than 1%, according to the latest tally, made public Friday by the world body.

The head of the UN climate agency, Patricia Espinosa, said the figures compiled by her office showed that “current levels of climate ambition are very far from putting us on a pathway that will meet our Paris Agreement goals.”

The figures offer a reality check on the many promises coming from world capitals and company boardrooms that leaders are taking climate change seriously.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the report “a red alert.”

The tally was all the more damning because fewer than half of all countries submitted fresh targets to the United Nations. The Paris climate accord, designed to limit an increase in global temperatures, had urged them to do so by the end of 2020.

Still missing from the ledger is the United States, which has produced more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country in history. It rejoined the Paris Agreement last week, after former President Donald Trump pulled out. It has yet to submit its 2030 targets and is under pressure from climate advocates to reduce emissions by at least 50% compared with 2005 levels.

Likewise, China, which currently produces the largest share of emissions, has yet to submit new 2030 targets to the U.N.

All eyes are on an international climate summit that the White House is set to host April 22. The United States is expected to announce its 2030 climate targets by then, and China may well come forward with an announcement of its own, too.

Some of the biggest emitter countries — including Australia, Brazil and Russia — submitted new plans for 2030 without increasing their ambitions. Mexico lowered its climate targets.

In contrast, 36 countries — among them Britain, Chile, Kenya, Nepal and the 27 countries of the European Union — raised their climate targets.

(Published 26 February 2021, 17:31 IST)

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