Feb 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

a pocket watch with a globe print background
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.

By the numbers: The UN said the combined effect of the targets, if achieved, would lead to a 1% drop in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.

  • Yet a pathway to limiting long-term temperature rise to 1.5°C — the most ambitious goal of the deal — would require a roughly 45% cut by then.

Why it matters: It's no secret that combined efforts are falling short.

  • But the analysis both tallies the gap and highlights the importance of the big UN climate summit in Scotland late this year and nations' actions in the runup.
  • "Today’s interim report ... is a red alert for our planet," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.

Yes, but: It's not as grim as the headline numbers suggest. Patricia Espinosa, the UN's top climate official, emphasized in a statement that the analysis is a "snapshot, not a full picture."

  • The report tallies new or revised NDCs from 75 parties that account for about 30% of global emissions.
  • Many large nations, including China, the biggest emitter, have not yet submitted their revised targets.
  • The U.S. plans to unveil a 2030 target ahead of a summit Biden is convening on April 22.
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