General

7 years after Paris Agreement, countries falling behind climate commitments

Seven years after the Paris Agreement on climate change, countries have fallen far behind the pledges and targets they adopted to fight climate change.

If countries maintain their current climate policies, global temperatures are set to rise to 2.6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, according to the Climate Action Monitor, created by the Germany-based non-profits Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute.

This far exceeds the cap of well under 2 degrees Celsius that the landmark climate deal sought to achieve in a bid to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of global warming.

Even if countries reduce their carbon emissions to the targets they pledged in the Paris Agreement, temperatures will increase to 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100, the monitor reported, adding that if they meet their updated climate goals for 2030, this would mean a 2.1 degree Celsius rise.

According to a report by 200 scientists, even if countries quickly reduce their carbon emissions, the temperature of the planet will increase by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next 20 years, causing heat waves, drought, and floods. The sea level will also rise, with 90% of coral reefs in the oceans disappearing, water acidity rising, polar glaciers melting, and many plant and animal species going extinct.

These consequences will be much direr if temperatures exceed 2 degrees Celsius, while the median warming estimate is only limited to 1.8 C if at least 140 countries reach net zero.

Tackling global warming and climate change has been an issue since the 1990s.

The first step was the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which resulted in the creation of an annual forum, the Conference of the Parties (COP).

The Kyoto Protocol, the first legally binding climate agreement elaborated in 1997, requires developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5% below 1990 levels. The document does not bind developing countries, thus excluding countries such as China and India -- which emit some of the highest CO2 levels.

Signed on Dec. 12, 2015, the COP21 in Paris was the most crucial climate change agreement in recent times, with all signatories committing to net zero emissions by 2050. Only Eritrea, Iran, Libya, and Yemen have not signed the deal.

The agreement plans for progress evaluations every five years on achieving countries' goals, with the first planned for 2023. However, there are no binding mechanisms for reaching these targets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1998 as a UN body, said in a 2021 report that the average temperature of the planet had already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius in the last 150 years.

Held in Egypt last month, the COP27 summit has been criticized for yielding insufficient progress in terms of policies to reduce carbon emissions.

Delegations at the summit were still able to reach a climate loss and damage fund for poor nations impacted the most by climate change despite contributing the least to global carbon emissions.

COP27 also called on multilateral development banks to update their priorities for climate finance, while countries also discussed reducing coal use, though other fossil fuels were left off its agenda.

Source: Anadolu Agency