The COP26 climate talks are currently underway in Glasgow with the aim of cleaning up the world's climate crisis, but new calculations suggest the commitments and announcements pledged so far are not going nearly far enough.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has released an analysis of the national pledges made at COP26 so far and compared them to the ones put forward last year. The chief finding is that 2030 deadline pledges alone (not including longer-term targets) remain “totally inadequate” and will put the planet on track for a 2.4°C (4.32°F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. From analyzing what countries are actually doing — not their proposals — the new analysis suggests Earth’s global temperature could rise by 2.7°C (4.86°F) by 2100.
For context, the desirable aim is to limit global warming to as close to 1.5°C (2.7°F) as possible. Any temperature increase over 2°C (3.6°F) would result in a disastrous uptick in the impacts from climate change.
“This new calculation is like a telescope trained on an asteroid heading for Earth,” Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said in a statement.
“It’s a devastating report that in any sane world would cause governments in Glasgow to immediately set aside their differences and work with uncompromising vigour for a deal to save our common future. Instead we’re seeing subversion, sabotage, and selfishness from the powerful, while vulnerable countries fight for their lives and youth activists cry out for justice. You have to ask, where is the empathy?"
“We have until the weekend to turn this thing around,” she added.
Just before COP26, the United Nations (UN) released a report that found that the 2030 pledges would result in a 2.7°C (4.8°F) rise in global temperatures by 2100. So, while there’s been a sliver of progress over the past week or so, world leaders are still falling short of what’s needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.
When it comes to long-term targets, not enough is being set in stone. Beyond the 2030 targets, more than 140 governments worldwide have announced net zero goals, covering 90 percent of global emissions. However, it’s unclear how most countries are going to achieve this. The CAT analysis suggests that only a tiny fraction of these countries have viable plans in place to achieve net zero emissions. While full implementation of these pledges would potentially reduce global warming 1.8°C by 2100, they suggest this is naively optimistic given the lack of plans in place.
COP26 comes to a close on November 12, meaning delegates have very little time to build on their promises by closing the colossal gap between their current policies and their net zero goals. Not everyone is optimistic this will be achieved in the few days left.
“The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net zero goals: there’s a nearly one-degree gap between government current policies and their net zero goals,” Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organization, said in a statement.
“Today’s leaders need to be held to account for this massive 2030 gap. If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5°C limit may well be lost,” Professor Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute, another CAT partner organization, added.