It was agreed eight years ago in Paris, and has been ratified by an increasing number of countries in the past few years. “Net zero” emissions in the second half of this century, that’s what 148 countries are now promising. But many of them don’t yet have reliable plans to make this happen, leaving the world still teetering on very high temperatures.
This is evidenced by international research, Posted Thursday in Sciences. For the first time, researchers, including those from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), have examined the credibility of the promises of “net zero” countries. Despite these commitments, the emissions of India and Saudi Arabia, for example, are only increasing, with no prospect of change. The Netherlands and Europe are on the right track.
Heat waves, floods and food shortages
In the most optimistic scenario, the world is heading for 1.7 degrees of warming. This result is in line with the maximum warming of 2 degrees from the Paris Agreement, although it is still above the target of 1.5 degrees. In the pessimistic scenario, which involves only concrete and credible climate policy, the world is on a path to 2.6 degrees of warming, and the temperature will continue to rise after 2100.
“We have to break the misconception that everything will be fine,” says study co-author Michiel den Elsen of VU University Amsterdam and PBL. “Saying you’re not going to zero emissions without a plan is not credible.” He warns of a future with more heat waves, floods, rising sea levels and food shortages.
The United States and China score poorly
The researchers looked at the climate plans of the 35 countries with the most emissions, which together account for about 85 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union is one country. The researchers assessed credibility based on three criteria: whether promises were made in law, whether there was a credible long-term policy plan in place, and whether the plans would result in lower emissions in the next 10 years.
The differences between countries are great. The European Union, the United Kingdom and New Zealand received high marks, and their plans were rated “highly credible”. “Europe has a legislative plan, emissions are already going down and the forecast for 2050 is actually net zero.”
The United States and China scored much worse. For example, emissions are falling in the United States, but climate ambitions are not spelled out in law. “If Republicans come to power after the election, they can reverse a lot of the current climate policies.” This is due in part to the long-term benefits of US President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate policy, for example by Inflation Reduction Actis still not clear.
Draw the bill
Greenhouse gas emissions are also on the rise in China. However, the country is on a mission to catch up on renewable energy. “Most of the investment in renewable energy sources is in China.” According to Den Elzen, you can question the Chinese government enough, but it is beneficial for ongoing climate policy that the government does not change every four years.
The “net zero” promises of India and Saudi Arabia, for example, score the worst. “In India, for example, it is not clear what emissions they want to reduce, and whether it is just carbon dioxide.2 It is or, say, methane as well, which is a much more powerful greenhouse gas in the short term.”
The nations of the United Nations are currently meeting in Bonn in preparation for the next climate summit. It will be held at the end of this year in the United Arab Emirates – which, by the way, also scores “a notably unsatisfactory score”. This year, countries are holding their meetings for the first time Taking global stocks.Eight years after Paris, they are officially drafting the bill to see if greenhouse gases are already falling enough, or whether climate plans need to be severely tightened.
The new research is intended as an introduction to this inventory and provides a clear conclusion. Den Elsen: “We are still in a world where emissions are increasing. This is contrary to what should happen.”
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