The climate crisis is unfolding all around us and despite big political promises, actual commitments by many world governments remain lacking. An analysis by the Think Tank Climate Action Tracker (CAT) released Wednesday shows that out of 37 countries assessed only the Gambia has undertaken climate actions that is consistent with the Paris Agreement goals.
The goal of the agreement, signed in 2015, is to keep the average increase of global temperatures below 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial levels. Bold actions are required by governments to actually achieve that. The assessment showed that apart from the Gambia, there are only seven countries that have undertaken climate action that is nearly sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement goal: Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, and the UK.
Regarding the UK in particular, the analysts stress that while the commitment is in line with the Paris Agreement, its policies and international support are not. The EU, Germany, and the US have updated their targets, but the action remains insufficient.
“In May, after the Climate Leaders’ Summit and the Petersburg dialogue, we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments, but governments then had only closed the emissions gap by up to 14 percent,” Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner organization, said in a statement.
“But since then, there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Governments have now closed the gap by up to 15%, a minimal improvement since May. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.”
Three-quarters of the countries assessed have major gaps in climate action, and some of the most prolific emitters of greenhouse gases are among them. With the latest IPCC report stressing the urgency of taking the climate crisis seriously, decisive actions are needed.
“Of particular concern are Australia, Brazil, Indonesia Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Viet Nam: they have failed to lift ambition at all, submitting the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than those they put forward in 2015. These countries need to rethink their choices,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.
“The IPCC has given the world a ‘code red’ warning on the dangers of climate change reinforcing the urgent need for the world to halve emissions by 2030. An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed. While many governments have committed to net zero, without near-term action achieving net zero is virtually impossible.”
The situation is serious but it is important to remember that it is not hopeless. Any changes that we can make will have benefits long term, but obviously the bigger, and the sooner, the better.