Do G20 Nations Have Sufficient Emission Reduction Targets To Stay On Track For 1.5°C? A recently released paper covered the world’s biggest economies and their need to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C. The paper titled ‘Keeping 1.5°C Alive’ was authored by E3G (an independent climate change think tank), The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), and Jamal Srouji from the World Resource Institute.
In November 2021, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, several counties agreed to the Glasgow Climate Pact. The countries agreed that there is a need for improvement to close the current emissions gap to 1.5°C in this decade. Countries worldwide need to decide their contribution to temperature reductions before 2030 by raising ambitions and setting out policies and plans for delivering their promises.
Each country was expected to submit ‘Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs)‘. However, a few countries did not do so and are expected to submit them before the COP27. Few countries have not even pledged to reduce emissions. They should do so by the end of 2022- especially the G20 group of emitters responsible for about 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Present Geopolitical Context
The world has changed drastically since the COP26, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries that previously faced hard challenges such as Covid-19 recovery, economic crisis, and climate change impacts are now struggling with the additional challenge of unpredictable fossil fuel prices, growing food and energy costs, and rising global inflation.
According to the World Bank, the increase in food and energy prices is the worst since 2008 and 1973, respectively. Energy prices are likely to rise by an additional 50 percent in 2022, keeping prices high until 2024. According to predictions, oil prices will average $100 a barrel in 2022, while gas and coal prices will rise to 40 percent and 80 percent, respectively, higher than in 2021.
Looking at the present energy and food crisis, countries should prioritize spending on cheaper and sustainable energy sources. Countries should consider setting up resilient-based policies and planning approaches that use limited financial resources while addressing climate change risks.
The reliance on Russian fossil fuels is a top national security concern for several countries. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the permanent solution for protecting national security and energy sovereignty lies in decarbonization and mitigating climate change.
The new geopolitical context brings new challenges to international groups like the G20 and other international political decision-making processes. Russia continues to slow down things and often acts as a blocker. Thus, achieving climate promises and pledges in a tense geopolitical environment becomes even more important.
For example, in the context of its planned 55 percent emission cut by 2030, the Repower EU plan seeks to rapidly deploy solar and wind energy, aiming to submit a proposal for rapid permitting of renewable projects and change rules on power purchasing agreements.
It is adopting the IEA proposal for EU demand reduction, calling on citizens to act to cut their energy use. The United Kingdom has also signaled a speeding up of renewable roll-out, increasing the deployment rate of offshore wind by about 25 percent, targeting 50GW of deployment by 2030.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is currently in the process of preparing its sixth assessment report. The first part of the report warned that the world is running out of time to limit warming to 1.5°C- a code red for humanity. The second part of the assessment warned that the effects of climate change are worse than expected and is likely to worsen in the coming years.
3.5 million people already live in areas vulnerable to climate change, with no improvements or adaptations. Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to lose 12 percent of GDP by 2050 and 80 percent by 2100 with current emissions. The IPCC reports concluded that: the scientific evidence is unequivocal- Climate change is a huge threat to human and planetary health. Any delay in global action on mitigation and adaptation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a sustainable and healthy future for all.
The third part of the report restated that there is only a small window for global effort. It also offered solutions to achieve emission cuts needed in the 2020s and to put the world on track for net-zero emissions by 2050. It also states that no new fossil fuel infrastructure can be adopted, leaving a stark warning of the financial risks for nations still reliant on fossil fuels.
According to the IPCC working group three co-chair, Professor Jim Skea, it’s now or never if we want to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C; without immediate emission reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.
Will Promises Be Kept?
The 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact committed countries to come back to the COP27 with more ambitious goals and plans for the 2020s and will approach achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. It also highlighted the need to protect ecosystems and environments.
Several countries made significant commitments in the UK presidency-brokered ‘sector deals’ such as:
Of greatest concern are the countries of Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Indonesia. These countries have not submitted new or upgraded NDCs. They claim to have submitted new 2030 climate targets, yet studies show that these nations have not delivered new ambitions beyond previous climate targets.
Important countries and major emitters such as Egypt, Turkey, and India fell short of communicating new NDCs in 2021. During COP26, all countries agreed that those who have not yet submitted updated NDCs should do so before COP27 in Egypt 2022.
Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia did submit new NDCs; however, they were unambitious. Further improvement is possible.
Canada, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America still have time to improve their enhanced 2030 climate targets. Critical action is needed to make progress in delivering the promised targets.
If NDCs and 2030 climate targets are not updated or improved, global temperatures will likely rise beyond 1.5°C, resulting in severe environmental shocks.
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