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National climate plans fall well short of what’s needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, according to a new report from UN Climate Change.

It says “much more action” is needed if the worst impacts of climate change are to be avoided. 

“[The] report shows that governments combined are taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis,” said Executive-Secretary of UN Climate Change, Simon Stiell. He called on governments to make “bold strides forward at COP28 in Dubai to get on track”.

The report, released every year, analyses nations’ climate pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). It looked at 168 NDCs representing 195 parties signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement, covering 95% of global emissions.

Missing targets

The report found that if all NDCs were fully implemented, global emissions would fall by 5.3% (2.3%-8.2%) by 2030 from 2019 levels. This compares to the 43% reduction needed to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. This presents the best chance of avoiding disastrous impacts of climate change, such as more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall. Excluding conditional elements included in NDCs, emissions would actually rise by 1.4% (1.5% lower to 4.2% higher) by 2030.

The report estimated that global emissions in 2030 would be 51.6 (48.3–54.8) Gt of CO2 equivalent. Last year’s report put the figure at 52.4 (49.1–55.7) Gt CO2 eq.

The best estimate of peak temperatures according to this latest analysis, the report said, is 2.1C-2.8C.

The report also outlined what countries are doing to cut emissions. Domestic mitigation measures in the form of renewable energy were most frequently mentioned (by 90% of parties), followed by measures to improve energy efficiency (73%).

UN Climate Change also released a second report on countries’ longer-term low-emission strategies, focusing on net-zero plans for 2050. It found that greenhouse gas emissions could be about 63% lower in 2050 compared to 2019 if all plans were fully implemented on time.

‘Massive benefits’

Stiell stressed that much work needed to be done and COP28 was the place to start: “Every fraction of a degree matters, but we are severely off track. COP28 is our time to change that. 

“It’s time to show the massive benefits now of bolder climate action: more jobs, higher wages, economic growth, opportunity and stability, less pollution and better health.”

He stressed the importance of the Global Stocktake, to be concluded at COP, in focusing minds on the job at hand. The stocktake will form the basis for the next round of NDCs that need to be submitted by 2025