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Climate Crisis: Pledges Being Made, But Inadequate To Face The Crisis

By Countercurrents.org

01 April, 2015

Under the shadow of climate crisis, and ahead of this December's Paris climate summit the US joins EU, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland in making contribution to 2015 climate deal public. The deadline for submitting pledges was March 31, 2015. However, the pledges are inadequate, and are not compatible with holding warming below 2°C.

Ed King reported in RTCC:

The US has confirmed it will target a 26-28% drop in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2025, in its contribution to a global climate change pact.

Announced last November as part of a US-China climate agreement, the offer has now been formally submitted to the UN.

The US is the largest emitter of GHG to submit its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) by the March 31 deadline set for countries that felt able to do so.

China, India and Brazil are expected to release their own commitments later this year.

UN officials see INDCs as the foundations of a proposed UN climate deal. They have set a deadline of October 1 for all countries to deliver their proposals, after which they will assess whether they are fair and adequate. Beyond 2C more droughts, floods and rising sea levels can be expected, a UN panel of scientists warned last year.

The March 31, 2015 report cited Bill Hare of Climate Analytics: “While there has been some progress in what governments are proposing for the post 2020 period, with several countries moving from “inadequate” to “medium”, proposals are still a long way from being 2C compatible”.

Jennifer Morgan from the World Resources Institute welcomed the US announcement, but expressed hopes the US would increase its target as the price of cleaner technologies continues to fall. “Some countries have already outlined how they will contribute their fair share to this global effort and many more will also join the United States in the months to come,” she said.

Pledges for 2015 UN climate pact

A Climate Action Tracker (CAT) presented the following facts on March 31, 2015:

31/3 – Russia: 25-30% on 1990 levels by 2030, “subject to the maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests”.

“…if contribution of the Russian forests is fully taken into account, limiting GHG emissions to 70-75% of 1990 levels by the year 2030 does not create any obstacles for social and economic development…” – official submission.

31/3 – US: 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2025

“This target is consistent with a straight line emission reduction pathway from 2020 to deep, economy-wide emission reductions of 80% or more by 2050,” – official submission.

27/3 - Mexico: Emissions peak by 2026, 25% reduction compared to business as usual in 2030 (includes black carbon)

“Mexico is a responsible party committed to tackling global climate change by transforming its development route to a low emissions pathway, which requires progressive decoupling of carbon emissions from economic growth,” – official submission.

27/3Norway: 40% on 1990 levels by 2030

“Norway's commitment … is well in line with the emissions pathways towards 2050 that correspond to keeping global warming below 2C,” – official submission.

9/3 – European Union: “At least” 40% on 1990 levels by 2030

“I now call on all our partners, especially major and emerging economies, to come forward in time and at least match our level of ambition,” – Miguel Arias Canete, EU climate commissioner.

27/2 – Switzerland: 50% GHG cuts on 1990 levels by 2030

“This objective of a 50% reduction in emissions reflects Switzerland's responsibility for climate warming” – Swiss environment ambassador Franz Perrez.

All are “Medium”

Another CAT report said:

The CAT has developed the most comprehensive method yet of simultaneously assessing the “fairness” and “below 2°C compatibility” of government climate action put forward for the Paris Agreement, expected to be adopted in December this year.

Scientists from the CAT's four research organisations (Climate Analytics, Ecofys, NewClimate Institute, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) have spent months working on a new way of assessing just how “fair” the action of each government is, compared with what it should be doing to contribute to the globally-agreed aim of holding warming to below 2°C.

The CAT has applied this to four INDCs – (intended nationally determined contributions) submitted to the UNFCCC by the first deadline:  the EU, Switzerland, Mexico and Norway and all are rated “Medium.”

This means their INDC's are not compatible with holding warming below 2°C, unless many others were to do more than their fair share.  If all countries were rated “medium,” the 2°C limit would likely be breached. Mexico's assessment is underway.

The report headlined “Are governments doing their "fair share"? - New method assesses climate action” said:

“Assessing the fairness of climate action is particularly important because of the number of higher pledges that are conditional on other governments making comparable efforts,” said Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute.

“Everybody has a different way of deciding what is a “fair” effort on climate change.  Some consider it fair that those who have made a bigger contribution to the problem, or have a higher capability to act, should do more. But even if that were agreed, how much more should they do?”
For the first time, the CAT has produced a fully transparent way of comparing proposals with the many interpretations of what is fair.  It has applied these to all the countries it assesses.

In some cases, such as China, which hasn't yet submitted its INDC, the CAT has assessed its announced policies.  The US is expected to announce its INDC this week but it is anticipated to be very much along the lines of what it has already announced.  Both have been rated medium.  The US INDC rating will be formally assessed once out.

“While there has been some progress in what Governments are proposing for the post 2020 period, with several countries moving from “inadequate” to “medium”, proposals are still a long way from being 2°C compatible,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics.

“We hope our effort sharing assessment helps governments, the media and observers to interpret the offers made in the run-up to anticipated adoption of the Paris Agreement in December in terms of below 2°C compatibility and fairness.  There are many claims being made by governments as to what is fair, and what is comparable, and now there's an independent, objective assessment that will provide that information.”

The March 31, 2015 report said:

The effort sharing assessment is a far-reaching compilation of a wide range of literature on what researchers would consider a “fair” contribution to greenhouse gas reductions in the context of global efforts to limit warming below 2°C.  The CAT has included in its database the over 40  “effort-sharing” studies used by the IPCC (chapter 6 of WG III) and has carried out its own, additional, analyses to complete the dataset.

The assessment covers very different viewpoints of what could be fair, including considerations of equity, such as historical responsibility, capability, and equality. We only include those results from studies that are compatible with limiting warming below 2°C.

The CAT has assessed 30 governments, including all the big emitters, and a selection of smaller emitters from across the developing country spectrum.   New countries added to the assessment include: Ethiopia, Gambia, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. Those who have not submitted their INDC's have had their 2020 pledges and policies assessed.













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