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Paris Agreement Goals Within Reach

In remarkably positive news, latest analysis suggests the goals of the UN Paris climate agreement are getting "within reach."

For more than a decade, researchers from the Climate Action Tracker have kept a close eye on what countries' collective carbon-cutting pledges mean for our warming world. In September this year, the group concluded that the world was heading for warming of around 2.7C by 2100. This figure was far above the 2C goal contained in the wording of the Paris pact. But much has changed since then, even though it was only three months ago.

These are some of the key developments:

  • China's President Xi Jinping told the UN that his country will reach net zero emissions by 2060, and that its emissions will peak before 2030. According to the CAT researchers, this could reduce warming by 0.2 to 0.3C by the end of the century.

  • Japan and South Korea have both followed suit, pledging to reach net zero by 2050. South Africa and Canada have also announced their own net zero targets.

  • The other significant change is the election of Joe Biden in the US.

Tackling climate change is a major part of Biden's agenda. He has promised to bring the US to net zero emissions by 2050. That move would reduce global temperatures by 0.1C by 2100.

"We now have north of 50 percent of global emissions covered by big countries with a zero emissions by mid-century goal," said Bill Hare from Climate Analytics, who helped lead the Climate Action Tracker analysis.

"When you add all that up, along with what a whole bunch of other countries are doing, then you move the temperature dial from around 2.7C to really quite close to two degrees." CAT's new projection is 2.1C.

The big issue is that it's rather too easy to make a pledge for a far off future date (be it 2050 or 2060) and there continue to be concerns about the short term efforts countries need to make in order to achieve their ultimate goals.

However, the countries that have signed up to the Paris Agreement are expected to lodge new carbon-cutting plans for 2030 by the end of this year. It's expected that a number will do so, including the UK and the EU.

But there are several countries who are still reluctant to set goals, and many poorer nations are still looking to invest in coal. "There are countries that still remain bad actors, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Australia, Russia, and a few others," said Bill Hare.

According to observers, the response of countries to the Covid crisis has been a huge opportunity to focus their short-term spending on renewable energy and increased decarbonisation. So, out of the grizzly Covid-19 area, some Earth saving benefits have emerged.

"The pandemic opened a window to not only get countries to outline their long-term goal, but to actually move onto the right path so that they can actually achieve the long term goal," said Dr Maisa Rojas, who is the director of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research at the University of Chile in Santiago.

"Are we going to harness that opportunity? My impression is that many, including the EU, are harnessing it."

Source: BBC

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