A new report from a climate research group suggests that updated policies from major countries have put the targets of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement within reach.
This good news comes off the back of recent political announcements in Asia, and has climate-focused experts excited of the possibility of more countries following suit and updating their commitments.
The report, from a think tank called Climate Action Tracker, states that if every country which has made a net-zero carbon emissions pledge targeted for 2050 fulfils it, that would be enough to limit warming in this century to 2.1°C, strikingly close to the Paris Agreements made five years past.
Previous estimates have suggested that earlier commitments might create a limit of around 2.7, which is dangerously close to the 3°C threshold where general climate hypothesis suggests many major catastrophic effects would take place.
President-elect Joe Biden seems to want to make carbon emissions a major focus of his administration, and announcements from Japan and South Korea also involve carbon-neutrality by 2050.
Xi Jinping told the UN in June that his country, which recently installed some of the world’s largest renewable energy infrastructure, is aiming for carbon-neutrality by 2060.
“Five years on, it’s clear the Paris Agreement is driving climate action,” said Prof Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, a Climate Action Tracker partner organization.
“The Paris Agreement introduced the goal of global net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and now we’re seeing a wave of countries signing up to it. Can anyone really afford to miss catching this wave?”
These are the sorts of commitments from the sorts of countries which organizations like Climate Action Tracker are constantly pushing for. Large carbon producers like China, Japan, and the U.S. can affect real change when they make commitments like this, not only because of their production of carbon, but their significant place as center pieces in world carbon markets like oil, coal, and gas.
Their policy sends out market signals that are important for driving private sector reductions in carbon as well.
“We now have north of 50% of global emissions covered by big countries with a zero emissions by mid-century goal,” said Bill Hare from Climate Analytics, another partner organization.
“When you add all that up, along with what a whole bunch of other countries are doing, then you move the temperature dial from around 2.7C to really quite close to two degrees.”
“It’s still a fair way off from the Paris Agreement target, but it is a really major development,” he said.