Despite “exceptionally strong” language from governments in the latest National Climate Change Plans (NCCPs), actual emissions may not be able to be reduced significantly until 2050, a new report by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) shows.
In “National Climate Change Plans (NCCPs), Governments Have Not Reached U.N. Mandated Targets,” written by UNEP and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the report concludes that the NCCPs released last year have fallen short of the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement, which says that countries would have to begin cutting emissions as early as 2022. While countries such as China and the United States have made significant efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the report notes that many others are still miles away from meeting even their current pledge.
The last time countries submitted NCCPs was before the U.S. election, when the UNEP says that 84 percent of countries committed to cutting emissions by 2030. In 2016, however, only 15 countries had submitted NCCPs by the U.N. Climate Change Convention, according to the report.
“With the passage of time and steady technical progress, the inability of some NCCPs to reach the target is now well documented,” the report states.
The authors of the report also suggest that the shorter timeframe for meeting targets in the NCCPs, which is “defined within the context of the Paris Agreement,” does not take into account the existing “already irreversible effects” from climate change.
Among the countries who failed to submit a NCCP in 2016, and as a result missed the timeframe for their Paris target, is the world’s largest emitter, China. The communist country plans to go even further, by cutting emissions by between 41 to 57 percent by 2030.
“Today’s report shows the magnitude of the energy and technology challenge and the necessary contribution we need to make to prevent a 2 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, which would endanger all of the fundamental elements of our planet,” John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and chief scientific adviser to the German government, said in a statement.
“This is the first time all countries are calling for a low-carbon, emission-free future,” Rob Jackson, professor of global environmental change at Stanford University, said in a statement. “The 2015 Paris Agreement’s climate commitments are still extremely ambitious, and developing countries have set the bar even higher.”
Reducing emissions may still be seen as a burden for developing countries as they prepare for higher temperatures — and they say cutting back on energy, water, land use and pollution all increase the costs of development.
The report was released ahead of a week of talks in Bonn, Germany, ahead of next month’s U.N. Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Poland from December 7 to 18.