Climate Promises Fall Dangerously Short of 1.5 ° C Target

In the fight against climate change, one number is above all: 1.5 degrees Celsius. It can be hard to wrap your head around the implications of a warming world, but the difference between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius is huge. To give an example: At 1.5 degrees Celsius, we are talking about the loss of 70 percent of coral reefs; at 2 degrees Celsius, the corals disappear. At 1.5 degrees Celsius, 1 in every 100 Arctic summers will be ice-free; at 2 degrees Celsius it is 1 in 10.

With the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow nearing the end line, one of the biggest questions that needs to be answered is whether it will keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target alive. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urges countries to “Pull all stops over the next few days to keep 1.5 alive.” And a statement from the “high ambition coalition” calling on countries to deliver more ambitious climate promises in line with 1.5 degrees Celsius ahead of COP27 there are already 41 supporting countries, including the United States.

For countries like the Marshall Islands, that is facing extinction from climate change when emissions don’t reign, the idea of ​​not raising short-term climate promises is a nonstarter. “We have to go back to make sure the contributions set by the country are in line with 1.5 degree C,” said Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands at COP26, on Nov. 10. “There has to be something to bring back us at the table until the targets are given. ”

With all the mixed messages coming out of COP26, it can be hard to understand how close we are to reaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. An analysis released last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) it is estimated that the climate promises made so far at COP26 will help limit global warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. But a separate one analysis from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) found that current promises increased 2.4 degrees Celsius warming by the end of the century, with actual land policies and actions putting the world on the road for a massive 2.7 degrees Celsius warming, a path UN chief Antonio Guterres called “catastrophic.” The differences in the real world between 1.8 degrees Celsius and 2.7 degrees Celsius can be profound.

So what happened? The issue is that this is all projections, who in their character have to make specific assumptions as to what will happen. The IEA assessment believes all long-term net zero pledges will be fulfilled and will include top-level pledges made last week, such as one that will cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030.

But all of these pledges are not now included in the more formal, shorter -term climate pledges to the UN, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

If the CAT makes the same assumptions as the IEA, it actually has the same numbers, according to Niklas Höhne, a fellow at the NewClimate Institute and co -author of the CAT analysis. “We also have an optimistic scenario of below 1.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, but we are warned that this will not happen,” he said. “Countries don’t have enough short-term policies in place to move themselves down a path toward their own net-zero targets. The short term is the problem.”

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