Emission pledges made at COP26 can reduce global warming to less than 2°C


If the plans of India – the world’s third largest emitter of CO2 – to zero its net emissions and those of other countries, announced at the Climate Summit (COP26), are carried out, the world temperature will likely rise by around 1.9°C. That is, a level lower than the 2°C limit, but still above the desired 1.5°C limit established by the Paris Agreement. The conclusion comes from the University of Melbourne, according to which the combined pledges and likely emissions trajectories of more than 190 countries have given more than a 50% chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C, as published by the English journal The Guardian.

Research author Malte Meinshausen, associate professor of climate science in Melbourne and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the “major” shift in projected global warming was largely triggered by recent improvements in emission targets from India and China to 2030, as well as India’s commitment to Net Zero by 2070. However, to reach this lower level it would be necessary for countries to map trustful paths to reach Net Zero, in addition to developing nations receiving climate finance to achieve carbon neutrality.

Ed Miliband, Labor Party business secretary and veteran of COP Copenhagen in 2009, warned that much more needs to be done: “Any progress is welcome, but we need extreme caution when declaring success based on vague and often empty net zero targets, three or more decades from now. For example, Australia has a net zero goal for 2050, but its plans for 2030 are in line with four degrees of warming. There is a reason for the focus on halving emissions in this pivotal decade. It reflects the urgency, clarity, and specificity we need to keep 1.5°C alive. We cannot allow political leaders to change the goals.”

Alok Sharma, the president of COP26, said that the new commitments represented important progress, but that more needed to be done in this edition of the COP to reach the 1.5°C target. Patricia Espinosa, head of Climate at the United Nations (UN), in turn, declared that work must be done to resolve this gap. “That was the biggest challenge of this conference. But I haven’t heard anyone say they don’t want to go to 1.5°C,” she added.

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