Anna Aberg, Antony Froggatt and Rebecca Peters lay down markers for what would constitute a successful summit
The COP talks in Glasgow have been described in the media as the last chance to save the planet. If the talks are to be deemed a success substantial progress must be made in three areas: raising the ambition of national climate plans; supporting climate-vulnerable developing countries; and advancing the Paris Agreement’s implementation guide, known as the Paris Rulebook.
Raising the ambition of climate pledges The Paris Agreement has a bottom-up architecture, in which each government decides by how much it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions within a given time. These pledges are called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). A first round of these pledges was submitted in but they were not ambitious enough to reduce emissions to levels consistent with ‘well below’ C, let alone . C.
Governments are supposed to submit new or updated pledges every five years, with the expectation that ambition will increase over time. COP is the first ‘test’ of this ratchet mechanism, and a key benchmark for success in Glasgow is whether parties submit new or updated NDCs that collectively keep the goal of limiting warming to . C within reach.
Such pledges should be supported by concrete policies at the national level, and by deals – be they governmental, private or public-private – on important issues such as the phasing out of the use of coal and the protection of nature.
By September , countries and the member states of the European Union have communicated new or updated NDCs. A few governments, such as China and Japan, have proposed new targets but not yet communicated them to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Some of the updates are significantly more ambitious. For instance, the European Union has raised its target from ‘at least per cent’ to ‘at least per cent’. Britain has pledged to cut its emissions by at least per cent by and per cent by ; and the United States has set a mitigation target of - per cent by the end of this decade.
But the gap between the new targets and what is needed to be consistent with . C remains huge: Climate Action Tracker estimates the NDC updates only go per cent of the way at most.
It is crucial that governments improve their mitigation pledges. The parties or so that are yet to submit NDCs need to do so, while countries that have communicated unambitious targets – like Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia – should revisit their offers. The G countries, which account for per cent of global emissions, have particularly important roles to play.
Should the pledges made by the time of COP not be strong enough to close to gap to . C, governments need to agree on a strategy to raise ambitions in the early s. This could include a statement calling on governments to revisit NDCs earlier
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Above: A man stands on the beach watching a wild fire engulf trees. Scores of Greek residents were forced to leave their homes as flames raged across a nature reserve near Mount Geraneia in May 2021