Climate pledges not enough – UN
Christiana Figueres, UN Executive Secretary on the Framework Convention on Climate Change, said this week that the combined pledges by countries to lower carbon emissions would see the world warm by 3°C.
Speaking to journalists, she said only 62 nations had submitted their plans on how to deal with climate change and lower their emissions. These Intended Nationally Determined Contributions are a requirement of the ongoing international climate negotiations. The next meeting is in Paris in November, where an agreement for every country to lower emissions is expected.
Figueres said the 62 nations represented 70% of current global emissions, so a fairly accurate guess of the cumulative effect of all submissions could be made. With the world already 0.8°C warmer on average than when the Industrial Revolution started, she said that a good “guesstimate” still meant the intended contributions would not do enough.
Even if each measure was carried out, she said the world was on target to be 3°C warmer by the end of this century. The UN’s climate change body – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – has warned that this will create catastrophic and “irreversible” impacts.
This change is already being keenly felt in Africa. Its members states have continually argued that temperature increases have to be capped at 1.5°C if the continent is to survive its changing climate. Changes along the equator are more profound than in other parts of the world, with the interior of South Africa set to get warmer by 6°C this century.
South Africa is in the process of finalising its own intended contribution. The draft of this gives the country a wide margin for lowering emissions, and has come under heavy, and sustained, criticism from civil society. The environment department has been holding public meetings in every province to get feedback, which it says will help create the final submission.
These submissions will then be collated ahead of COP 21 in Paris and used as targets for countries in the coming decades.
The largest groups to submit their plans have been the European Union – which will cut emissions by 40% by 2030 – China – which will reach its maximum carbon emissions by 2030 and then start decreasing – and the United States – which will lower emissions by a third in the next decade.
Figueres said all of this presents a substantial step forward. “What the contributions will do is mark a very substantial departure from business as usual.”