There might be a hope to turn things around and limit the climate crisis, according to a new report published in the journal Nature. The new report is the first in-depth analysis of the net-zero commitments made by countries after the UN COP26 Climate Summit that happened in October 2021 in Glasgow.
It is a peer-reviewed study to assess the peak temperature rise that would result from countries delivering on their climate promises. It draws a major conclusion that for the first time in history data shows the world is able to limit global warming to less than 2°C based on climate commitments from countries.
Previous commitments before COP26 were pointing to global warming of more than 2°C, with severe consequences for billions of people. Now, according to the report, it is more likely that the peak temperature rise will be about 1.9°C. The news is considered a “historic milestone” and a good moment for climate change mitigation efforts.
However, for global warming to stay within limits, all countries must implement their commitments on time and in full. The bad news is that the policies to achieve that are not yet in place. The analysis of the pledges also includes those that developing countries have said will not take place without increased financial and technical support.
There is also bad news about the global target of a 1.5°C limit. The report shows that current reductions in global emissions planned by 2030 are well off track to keep the peak below 1.5°C. There is less than a 10% chance now of the world reaching that target.
Still, the statement that the 2°C limit is within reach was “big news,” according to Christophe McGlade of the International Energy Agency, a member of the team behind the new analysis. “It is the first time that governments have come forward with specific targets that can keep global warming below the symbolic 2C level,” he added.
“But the optimism must be curbed until promises to cut emissions in the future are supported by stronger short-term action… It is easy to set ambitious climate targets for 30, 40 or even 50 years in the future, but it is much more difficult to implement the policy [needed] today,” commented in Nature, Frances Moore, from the University of California, and Zeke Hausfather, the leader of climate research at Stripe.
Analysis regarding the year 2030 also points out that climate policies currently in place would mean a spike of about 2.6°C. After the latest commitments from countries made by 2030, the warming has been reduced to 2.4°C. The IPCC report also reminds that limiting heating to 1.5°C requires a 45% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2010.
Unfortunately, scientists claim emissions are on track to rise 7-15% by 2030 and governments are risking to delay climate action that is putting 1.5°C “out of reach.” Currently, the world is counting on carbon reduction technologies that could take away and sequester carbon from the air and into the ground rather than halting emissions from fossil fuel use to ensure a “liveable future”.
Around 153 countries have now submitted new climate commitments to the UN after the last summit, however, scientists warn there are still uncertainties about how the planet would respond to abnormally rising emissions in the near and long term. The countries committing to reduce emissions are also responsible for 75% of the global greenhouse gas footprint. While that makes the 2°C global warming limit possible still more decisive policies are needed to roll out those reductions.
Mr. McGlade also suggests policies that could have immediate or short-term effects on the energy and climate crises that include lowering speed limits on roads, accelerating the roll-out of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and stopping methane venting from oil and gas production facilities.
The new analysis on climate pledges is positive news for curbing the climate crisis and brings some fresh optimism. Global cooperation and determination are key in the following years to unlock further carbon reduction potential.