Even with big new promises, world still on track for devastating 2.4-degree warming

The world is on track for 2.4 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, if not more, according to a new analysis — despite countries’ new and updated climate pledges, including those made at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

The net zero goals of 40 countries account for 85 per cent of global emissions cuts, but the group found only 6 per cent of those emissions were backed up by concrete plans.

In this combination of 2021 and 2017 photos, a man watches as wildfires approach Kochyli beach on the Greek island of Evia, and a rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf is observed during a flyover by NASA. (AP Photo/Thodoris Nikolaou; John Sonntag/NASA via AP) (AP)

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, in a statement.

“Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”

Delegates from around the world are gathering at COP26 to attempt to limit the climate crisis.

While there were several breakthroughs in the first week of negotiations, experts warned the deals may not meet the urgency of the moment — specifically, that they won’t bring the world closer to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

“There’s a lot of big statements, which don’t have the details underneath: exactly when, how much, who’s going to do what,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics with the World Resources Institute.

A floating dock sits on the lakebed of the Suesca lagoon, in Suesca, Colombia. The lagoon, a popular tourist destination near Bogota that has no tributaries and depends on rain runoff, has radically decreased its water surface due to years of severe droughts in the area and the deforestation and erosion of its surroundings. (AP)

When destroyed, forests can emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The agreement included some of the world largest carbon stocks locked away in tropical forests.

But critics say it doesn’t go far enough and should include financing for fossil fuel projects at home, not just internationally.

Christine Shearer, the program director for coal at Global Energy Monitor, called the deal “a game changer,” but stressed that fossil fuel projects must be stopped within these countries’ own borders, too.

Under current policies — not proposals, but rather what countries are actually doing — CAT projects global temperatures to climb to 2.7 degrees.

Two kayakers try to beat the current pushing them down an overflowing Brays Bayou from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas. (AP)
But big coal users such as China, the United States, India, Japan and Australia have not signed on to the pledge.

If all net zero pledges are fully implemented, CAT reported the most optimistic scenario would be warming of 1.8 degrees, which would require bold and rapid action by 2030.

Still, countries’ climate targets for 2030 remain inadequate, according to Tuesday’s CAT analysis.

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