Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Most nations miss climate deadline

Most nations miss climate deadline

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Observers say many countries have not stepped up their climate ambitions. AFP

Most nations miss climate deadline

More than half the world’s nations failed to submit upgraded commitments by year’s end to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, straggling behind the schedule of accelerated climate ambitions set out in the Paris Agreement.

Almost every country on the planet signed up to the 2015 Paris deal, which calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.

The first raft of so-called “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) would – if fulfilled – still see Earth become 3C hotter, but nations pledged to intensify their emissions cuts, with revised plans due every five years.

As the December 31, 2020, deadline approached, several large emitters said they would achieve net-zero output this century, but many nations allowed the year end to pass without publishing details of their renewed short-term targets.

Most NDC pledges run to 2030, with a few – including that of the US – ending in 2025.

As of January 1, only around 70 out of nearly 200 nations had filed updated commitments, according to the United Nations, with some countries blaming delays on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Climate advocates are particularly eager to see the latest plans from China, the world’s largest emitter.

President Xi Jinping last year outlined new ambitions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. But the country has yet to formally submit proposals.

Another notable omission is the world’s second largest emitter, the US, which was yanked out of the Paris Agreement by President Donald Trump.

Incoming President-elect Joe Biden has however pledged carbon neutrality by 2050 and a return to Paris commitments.

The UN has estimated that emissions need to be cut by 7.6 per cent a year in the 10 years to 2030 if there is to be a hope of limiting heating to 1.5C.

Earth’s surface has already warmed nearly 1.2C on average, intensifying extreme weather and making it more deadly.

In his new year’s message, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said building a global coalition for net zero emissions by mid century would be the “central ambition” of the world body in 2021.

He said: “Every government, city, business and individual can play a part in achieving this vision.”

According to the most recent appraisal by Climate Action Tracker, the 49 states that had submitted their new proposals by mid-December – which included the then 27-nation EU – only represented 23.7 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Since that assessment, a further 20 states have filed their plans, including large economies such as South Korea and Argentina.

But revised commitments are not necessarily increased commitments.

According to Climate Action Tracker (CAT), Brazil, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Vietnam have submitted updated plans that are no more ambitious than their initial commitments.

Even among the nations that have improved upon earlier pledges, experts have warned of a paucity of ambition.

The EU bolstered its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 55 per cent by 2030 – up from 40 per cent.

But this still will not be sufficient to meet the Paris climate goals, according to CAT.

The NDCs that were submitted on time will come under the scrutiny of the UN Convention on Climate Change, which will assess progress on February 21.

The picture may become clearer only later in the year, at a major UN climate meeting in Glasgow that has been postponed to November.

World Resources Institute international climate director David Waskow said there had been some “important headway” made on climate action in recent weeks, particularly with upgraded 2030 targets from Britain and the EU.

But much more would need to be done this year.

Waskow said: “A number of major emitters still need to come forward with greater ambition, especially to follow-through on their net-zero commitments with 2030 targets that match their long-term vision. This year will be a critical test.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,