Wednesday 28th September 2016                 Change text size:

Lord Stern calls for countries to raise ambition of climate pledges



USA power plant by squeaks2569 via Flickr

Lord Stern has warned that current greenhouse gas emission pledges to limit climate change do not go far enough to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, in a new paper. The report calls for counties to raise the ambition of their climate pledges.

The paper, published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which Lord Stern is the chair of, argues that countries should seek ways to further reduce their emissions ahead of a crucial UN climate summit in Paris in December.

The paper states, “We think that it is important to offer preliminary analysis of how the pledges and announcements by some of the biggest emitters, together with assumptions about current and planned policies by other countries, compare against pathways for staying within the global warming limit of 2C.

“This allows us to confirm that there is a gap between the emissions pathway that would result from current ambitions and plans, and a pathway consistent with the global warming limit 2C. Consequently, countries should be considering opportunities to narrow the gap before and after the Paris summit.”

The pledges made so far mean that it is unlikely that the aggregate pledges made by all counties at the summit later this year will collectively be consistent with limiting temperature rise to 2C.

Estimates made by the UN suggests that in order to have a 50-66% chance of keeping global warming within the 2C targets annual emissions will have to be between 32 and 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030.

Together it is estimated that the EU, US and China will likely emit between 20.9 and 22.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030. This means that pledges put forward by the rest of the world cannot exceed emissions of 23 billion tonnes or the EU, US and China would have to raise their ambition.

However, the report indicates that current and planned policies suggest that emissions by the rest of the world could be around 35 billion tonnes, meaning there is a significant gap that will need to be closed in order to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

The Grantham Research Institute report concludes, “The ambitious and plans agreed at the Paris summit in December 2015 should be regarded as a critical initial step. It is also important that countries make pledges that are credible.

“However, the magnitude of the gap between current intentions and the international targets of limiting global warming to no more than 2C clearly should that an international agreement in Paris will have to include dynamic mechanisms for the assessment of progress and raising of ambitious. Hence the Paris summit should not be regarded as just a one-off opportunity to fix targets.”

The latest report isn’t the only one to call for more ambitious targets, scientists from the Climate Action Tracker have warned that pledged are not ambitious enough. The organisation rated only two countries as ‘role models’, while ten government pledged were labelled ‘inadequate’.

Photo: squeaks2569 via Flickr

Further reading:

EU calls for 60% emission cut by 2050

Geoengineering should not replace cutting emissions, say scientists

Climate pledges don’t go far enough, say scientists

Stronger EU renewable energy targets could rid need for subsidies


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