Countries will have to step up the pace of addressing climate change if they want to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to a United Nations report released Friday.
The U.N. Climate Change report synthesizes countries' climate action plans known as nationally determined contributions. NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting global temperature rise by at least 2 degrees Celsius — and ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius — by the end of the century. The Paris Agreement requires each party to have successive nationally determined contributions and pursue domestic mitigation measures aimed at achieving those objectives.
The NDC Synthesis Report covers submissions through December by 75 parties that represent roughly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, less than half of the parties to the agreement. While it found that the majority of countries increased their levels of ambition to reduce emissions, the changes would be small, reducing temperatures less than 1% in 2030 compared to 2010.
By contrast, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that meeting the 1.5°C temperature goal by 2030 will mean reducing emissions by 45%.
"We are encouraged by the recent political shift in momentum towards stronger climate action throughout the world, with many countries, including some major emitters, setting net-zero emissions goals by midcentury and global corporations committing to stronger climate action," Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of U.N. Climate Change, said in a statement. "But this report shows that current levels of climate ambition are not on track to meet our Paris Agreement goals."
The NDC report found there is still a significant gap between longer-term carbon neutrality and the commitments undertaken in the NDCs, and more clarity on how countries are planning to fulfill those longer-term commitments is necessary, Ms. Espinosa said in a statement on the report.
"If we want to stand any chance of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030 and embark on the road towards carbon neutrality around midcentury, transformative decisions need to be taken now," she said.
The report did show that governments take their commitments seriously, and the quality, including data on mitigation targets, has improved. Implementation is addressed much more comprehensively and "a significant number of countries" addressed their climate vulnerabilities and measures to address them. "Approaches for addressing vulnerabilities are becoming more comprehensive, rather than piecemeal," the report said.
"Yet many developing countries remain in urgent need of support to implement climate action," and they will need help. "Without adequate resources and access to greener technologies the deep transformation we need will not happen," the report said.
A second report expected before the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference in November, also known as COP26, will have many more countries, including major emitters. Ms. Espinoza said.
That report will be "a credibility test for our fight against the climate emergency" where countries can translate targets into immediate action and developed countries can meet their pledges to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually to help developing nations, she said.