Limited impact of Glasgow coal, cars, forests and methane pledges – analysis

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Electric car charging (John Walton/PA) (PA Archive)
Electric car charging (John Walton/PA) (PA Archive)

Pledges on coal, cars, forests and methane at Cop26 only have a limited impact on delivering what is needed to avoid dangerous warming, analysis shows.

The sector announcements have been championed by the UK, as hosts of the UN climate summit, as driving real-world action alongside the negotiations aimed at increasing efforts by countries to tackle emissions.

Initial analysis from Climate Action Tracker said the deals could cut emissions by around 2.2 billion tonnes.

They close the gap between the emissions countries will put into the atmosphere in 2030 under their climate action plans and what is needed to limit dangerous warming by just 9%, the analysis found.

Scientists warn that the world must cut emissions by 45% by 2030 as part of efforts to keep global warming to 1.5C, beyond which the most severe impacts of more extreme weather, rising seas and crop failures will be felt.

But there is a huge gap between that and what countries have planned for cutting emissions over the next decade.

Many countries have updated their national action plans for cutting climate pollution by 2030 in the past year, which reduced the emissions gap that previously existed by around 15-17%.

That means the increased national action promised in the run-up to Glasgow and the sector pledges together have reduced the gap by around a quarter (24-25%).

A woman walks through the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Tim Ireland/PA) (PA Archive)
A woman walks through the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Tim Ireland/PA) (PA Archive)

But global emissions will still be nearly twice as high in 2030 as what they need to be for the world to be on track for the 1.5C limit, the analysis said.

The analysts urged all governments to reconsider their targets towards the next climate conference in November 2022 to jointly enhance their action.

They recommended governments updated their national plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the UN process, if they had not included the sector initiatives in their targets.

If the initiatives gather more signatures, they could further reduce the gap by several billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, the analysts said.

But they raised concerns over whether the declarations such as on stopping deforestation would be converted into action on the ground.

The analysis only includes the signatories of the various initiatives by November 10, and only counts reductions that are not already planned for in countries’ action plans.

Prof Dr Niklas Hohne, NewClimate Institute, one of the Climate Action Tracker partner organisations said: “It is not surprising that the effect of the Cop26 sectoral initiatives beyond national climate targets is initially small.

“These initiatives are designed for those that do not sign immediately.

“The pressure of being put on the spot will help to grow the membership of the initiatives and enhance the effect beyond national climate targets in the long run.”

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