Few coun­tries meet­ing Paris cli­mate goals

Weekend Herald - - World - Amanda Erick­son

This week, a top sci­en­tific body study­ing cli­mate change re­leased a ter­ri­fy­ing re­port. The world has just a decade to take “un­prece­dented” ac­tion to cut car­bon emis­sions and hold global warm­ing to a mod­er­ate — but still dan­ger­ous and dis­rup­tive — level. That would re­quire a “rapid and far-reach­ing” trans­for­ma­tion of the world’s econ­omy, one of such scale and mag­ni­tude that it has no his­tor­i­cal equiv­a­lent.

The United Na­tions In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change warned that nearly ev­ery coun­try will need to sig­nif­i­cantly scale up the com­mit­ments made un­der the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord if hu­mans hope to avoid disas­ter. Un­der that agree­ment, 195 coun­tries pledged to cut their green­house-gas emis­sions to try to keep global warm­ing un­der 2C.

But it’s hard to imag­ine that will hap­pen, as al­most no coun­try is do­ing a good job meet­ing the rel­a­tively modest goals in place.

The United States was a sig­na­tory of the 2015 Paris agree­ment, but last year Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced that Wash­ing­ton was pulling out of the pact.

The Cli­mate Ac­tion Tracker, a project run by a group of three cli­mate-re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions, has been mon­i­tor­ing the progress of 32 coun­tries in meet­ing the Paris ac­cord goals. Taken to­gether, those 32 coun­tries ac­count for 80 per cent of the world’s green­house gas emis­sions.

The tracker’s goal is to pro­vide an “up-to-date as­sess­ment of coun­tries’ in­di­vid­ual re­duc­tion tar­gets and with an over­view of their com­bined ef­fects”. It looks at how much green­house gas each coun­try emits right now, what it has com­mit­ted to change on pa­per, and how well it’s fol­low­ing through on those prom­ises.

The group found that most ma­jor pol­luters are mak­ing few, if any, ef­forts to meet their goals. By Cli­mate Ac­tion’s cal­cu­la­tions, “crit­i­cally in­suf­fi­cient coun­tries” failed to even com­mit to cut­ting emis­sions sig­nif­i­cantly on pa­per. Only seven coun­tries have made com­mit­ments or ef­forts that would achieve the goal of the Paris ac­cord.

But there are some bright spots:

Morocco

The North African na­tion is one of only two coun­tries with a plan to re­duce its green­house-gas emis­sions far enough to keep warm­ing be­low 1.5C, an im­por­tant thresh­old for staving off some of the worst ef­fects of cli­mate change. Morocco has promised to halt its growth of green­house gas emis­sions by com­mis­sion­ing largescale re­new­able en­ergy projects. The coun­try has com­mis­sioned the largest con­cen­trated so­lar power plant in the world, scaled up its nat­u­ral-gas im­ports and cut back fos­sil-fuel sub­si­dies.

Morocco is on track to get 42 per cent of its en­ergy needs from re­new­able sources by 2020.

Gam­bia

The West African na­tion is the only other coun­try on track to cut its car­bon out­put in line with a 1.5C rise. Ac­cord­ing to Cli­mate Ac­tion Tracker, it’s one of the only de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the world to lay out a plan that would “bend its emis­sions in a down­ward tra­jec­tory”. A ma­jor part of that plan is a mas­sive re­for­esta­tion project it’s run­ning to stop en­vi­ron­men­tal ero­sion and degra­da­tion by plant­ing trees.

In­dia

One of the world’s big­gest economies, with one of the fastest­grow­ing re­new­able en­ergy pro­grammes, In­dia could meet its goal of gen­er­at­ing 40 per cent of its en­ergy from non-fos­sil-fuel sources as early as the end of this year. It has done that by de­clin­ing to open new coal-fired plants and pro­mot­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Bri­tain

Like most in­dus­tri­alised na­tions, Bri­tain is strug­gling to cut its emis­sions. But the na­tion de­serves spe­cial men­tion as the only de­vel­oped econ­omy in the world to cre­ate a body to track how well the coun­try is meet­ing its Paris agree­ment com­mit­ments and how the coun­try could do bet­ter. Bri­tain is also work­ing to­ward an am­bi­tious plan to re­duce its emis­sions to “net zero” by 2050.

The United States turned its back on the Paris agree­ment.

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