Many countries’ climate promises ‘too unreliable’, according to international study

It was agreed in Paris eight years ago, and has been ratified by many countries in the last few years. ‘Net zero’ emissions in the second half of this century, that’s what 148 countries are now promising. But many of them still lack credible plans to do this, leaving the world vulnerable to even greater temperature rises.

This has been proven by international research, Published on Thursday Science. For the first time, researchers including the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) have examined the credibility of countries’ ‘net zero’ promises. Despite these pledges, India and Saudi Arabia’s emissions continue to rise with little room for change. The Netherlands and Europe are on the right track.

Heat waves, floods and food shortages

In the most optimistic scenario, the world is headed for about 1.7 degrees of warming. This result is in line with the hard limit of a maximum 2 degrees of warming from the Paris Agreement, although it is still well above the 1.5 degrees target. In a pessimistic scenario involving only firm and credible climate policy, the world is headed for 2.6 degrees of warming, and temperatures will continue to rise after 2100.

“We need to break the misconception that everything will be fine,” says study co-author Michel den Elzen of VU University Amsterdam and PBL. “It’s not credible to say you’re going to net zero emissions without a plan.” And he warns of a future of heat waves, floods, rising sea levels and food shortages.

The US and China scored worst

The researchers looked at the climate plans of 35 countries with the highest emissions, which account for 85 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The European Union is considered as one country. The researchers assessed credibility based on three criteria: whether the promises were enshrined in law, whether there was a credible long-term policy plan and whether the plans would result in lower emissions over the next ten years.

The differences between countries are huge. The EU, UK and New Zealand received the highest scores, with their programs rated as ‘highly credible’. “Europe has a legitimate plan, emissions are already falling and projections for 2050 are actually net zero.”

The US and China scored the worst. For example, emissions are falling in the US, but climate ambitions are not spelled out in law. “If Republicans come to power after the election, they can reverse current climate policies.” Because of this, the long-term benefit of US President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate policy, for example through his Inflation ActNot clear yet.

Draw the bill

Greenhouse gas emissions are also increasing in China. However, the country is playing an important role in renewable energy. “Most investments in renewables are in China.” According to Den Elson, you can question the Chinese government enough, but not changing the government every four years is beneficial for sustainable climate policy.

For example, the ‘net zero’ promises of India and Saudi Arabia are the worst. “In India, for example, it’s not clear which emissions they want to reduce, whether it’s just CO2 Or, for example, methane, a very strong greenhouse gas in the short term.”

UN nations are currently gathering in Bonn to prepare for the upcoming climate summit. It will take place later this year in the United Arab Emirates – which also received a ‘significantly unsatisfactory’ score. This year, the countries are hosting for the first time Taking global stakes.Eight years after Paris, they are formally drawing up a bill to see whether greenhouse gases are already falling enough or whether climate plans need to be tightened drastically.

New research is designed as input to that inventory and provides a clear conclusion. Den Elson: “We’re still in a world with rising emissions. It’s the opposite of what should be happening.”

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