One of the first big jobs facing leaders when they arrive the Paris for the climate talks will be how to find a way to close the gap between the emissions countries have promised to cut, and what is needed to limit global warming to well below 2°C.
With most countries’ pledges to cut their greenhouse gas emissions now submitted, we know that they are not enough. The UN climate talks need to find a way to close this emissions gap.
In order to limit warming to well below 2°C, experts call for global emissions to peak before 2020 and decline rapidly thereafter. Unfortunately, the overall pledges presented by countries so far are not enough to guarantee an emissions peak within this decade nor a safe climate future.
Dr Stephen Cornelius WWF-UK’s chief advisor on climate change said: “With over 150 countries having already submitted pledges to tackle climate change, we now have a clear picture of countries’ ambitions.
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“While these pledges are a start in taking climate action, we know that we are still on course for a world which will heat up above 2°C.
“The paris Climate deal must include ways to encourage countries to take on tougher emissions targets. These targets must be fair and fit the scientific evidence in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
Tasneem Essop, WWF’s head of delegation to the UNFCCC said: “Leaders must deliver an agreement that allows for a regular increase of climate action. An ambition mechanism will enable this. If this is not agreed, we are at risk of a Climate deal where countries offer commitments purely based on their ‘national circumstance’ with little or no consideration to the requirements of science or fairness.
“If we continue along this path we will not be able to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Cooperation among countries, is the key to unlock additional action to close the ambition gap” said Essop.
The new climate regime and the ambition mechanism must be built around regular 5-year cycles of progressively more ambitious contributions, informed by science and equity reviews. WWF’s proposal is a three part plan:
Cooperation: all countries should agree to take steps beyond their unconditional INDC’s to cut the post-2020 emissions gap by half or more before 2025 and close it entirely soon thereafter. Developed countries parties, and others willing to do so, should make quantified pledges of support (expressed in terms of finance or a target of emissions reductions) to developing countries to satisfy their conditional targets and take other steps to help meet this 2025 goal.
Leading champions: the Paris outcome should develop a permanent high-level action agenda, led by prominent country leaders that incentivise and track progress on new, transformative cooperative actions between governments and among non-state actors within a robust accountability framework.
A technical base: The existing technical examination process has helped engage experts and catalyse new ideas. But the process has not been given the political attention and resources needed to become truly transformative. The Paris outcome should link the technical process to the action agenda and key mechanisms of the convention including the Green Climate Fund and the annual high level engagements where scaled up collaborative initiatives could be launched.