Climate Change

Climate pledges lacking: 87% of remaining global carbon budget to limit warming may be depleted by 2030, finds UN

Emissions will only be 2% lower in 2030 than 2019 levels if fully implemented

By Tamanna Sengupta
Published: Wednesday 15 November 2023
Photo: iStock__

If the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) of all countries are implemented, global emission levels will be 2 per cent lower in 2030 compared to 2019 levels, according to a new report. This is grossly insufficient to limit global temperatures to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, for which emissions need to reduce by 43 per cent in 2030 compared to 2019, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The NDC synthesis report for 2023, released by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), assessed 168 NDCs representing 195 countries of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Together, the countries contribute 94.9 per cent of global emissions.

Read more: Corporate climate efforts fall short, 24 major companies will be able to reduce only 36% emissions: Report

About 51.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) will be emitted in 2030 despite the implementation of the current NDC targets, the report found. This is marginally lower than the previous version of this report, which projected 52.4 GtCO2e emissions in 2030. The improvement indicated the updated NDCs are slightly more ambitious than before, but they are not enough.

Cumulatively, CO2 emissions indicated by the current NDCs will use up 87 per cent of the remaining carbon budget, leaving around 70 GtCO2e post 2030. This is higher than the previous version of the report, which estimated 86 per cent of the remaining budget being used up.

There is stronger evidence of global emissions peaking before 2030, but this is dependent on conditional elements of the NDCs being met. Implementing only the unconditional NDCs will lead to emissions rising by 1.4 per cent in 2030 compared to 2019 levels. 

Most of the conditional elements in NDCs are from developing countries, for whom access to finance and technology is critical to being able to achieve their targets. Quantified financial support needs were outlined by 46 per cent NDCs and capacity building as a prerequisite to achieving their targets was identified by 75 per cent. 

Read more: Fossil fuel plans of major producers not aligned with Paris Agreement goals, warns UNEP Report

Almost half the countries outlined long-term mitigation plans in their NDCs. In a related report published by the UNFCCC, it assessed the long-term low-emission development strategies (LT-LEDS) put forth by countries. LT-LEDS are plans to achieve targets like Net Zero emissions or carbon neutrality, as many countries have put forth by mid-century.

The collective emissions of the NDCs outlining LT-LEDS will be 35.9 GtCO2e in 2030, 6 per cent lower than 2019 levels, the report said. 

LT-LEDS are broader in scope and while most countries communicated a quantifiable emissions reduction goal, some outlined policies and practices aimed at long-term mitigation. The report, however, noted that many Net Zero targets remain uncertain, with action postponed beyond this critical decade.

Forty three per cent LT-LEDS indicated they will guide the development of further NDCs and 18 per cent highlighted a need for more ambitious emissions reduction measures than those mentioned.

Read more: Paris Agreement at 8: Progress, challenges and road to COP28

The reports are expected to feed into the culmination of the first-ever Global Stocktake — an assessment of the progress of countries towards their climate commitments — at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the UNFCCC in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to be held from November 30, 2023 to December 12, 2023. 

Following the findings of the NDC synthesis report, the Global Stocktake offers an opportunity to strengthen the implementation of targets and improve the flow of finance to achieve commitments from developed to developing countries. 

“Using the Global Stocktake to plan ahead, we can make COP28 a game-changer and provide a springboard for a two-year climate action surge,” Executive-Secretary of UN Climate Change Simon Stiell said. “We need to rebuild trust in the Paris process, which means delivering on all commitments, particularly on finance, the great enabler of climate action. And ensuring that we are increasing resilience to climate impacts everywhere.”

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