As emissions reduction pledges continue to be submitted by governments worldwide ahead of the December climate talks in Paris, new research has warned that they will not be sufficient to limit global warming to 2°C.
Analysis published on Wednesday by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy says the intended national determined contributions (INDCs) that have been submitted so far by 46 countries, including Australia, would lead to annual global emissions in 2030 of 56.9 to 59.1bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. At most, this is 12 billion tonnes more than the level UNEP says would give the planet a 50-66 per cent chance of limiting global warming to less than 2°C.
If that isn’t scary enough for you, the picture painted by the graph below should be. As you can see, the projected path sits just below UNEP’s business-as-usual scenario. Indeed, as the report notes, the INDCs are still 15–17 GtCO2e higher than the emissions level that would be consistent with the goal of avoiding global warming of greater than 2°C. Although, it adds, that nasty gap in the graph might be expected to decrease as more INDCs are submitted. Probably not if they’re anything like Australia’s, though.
“The mismatch between the ambitions embodied by the INDCs and the overall objective of having a reasonable chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2°C means that Parties to the UNFCCC should undertake additional action,” says the report.
The action recommended includes “hard work over the next few months by all countries to find credible ways of achieving bigger emissions reductions which can be included in INDCs to be submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat, and/or achieved through additional efforts by partnerships (e.g. through specific decarbonisation initiatives among willing countries).
The Grantham report also recommends an “intensification of efforts to increase investment and innovation,” particularly in development of cities, energy systems and land use that could help to close the gap between intentions and goals; the creation of a mechanism for countries to review their efforts and to ramp up the ambition of their emissions reductions; and a concerted effort by all countries to build strong and transparent domestic bases for the implementation of their INDCs.