Targets set since September could limit global temperature rise to 2.4C, if followed by the right policies, but they are not enough to meet Paris Agreement goals, researchers say
By Megan Rowling
BARCELONA, May 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Stronger pledges to cut planet-warming emissions made by the United States, European Union countries, China and Japan have lowered the projected level of global warming by the end of this century to 2.4 degrees Celsius, researchers said on Tuesday.
The latest analysis from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) showed new national targets for 2030 and longer-term goals for net-zero emissions, set since September under the Paris Agreement, had brought down its warming estimate by 0.2C.
The tracker, run by the NewClimate Institute and Climate Analytics think-tanks, urged governments to now implement new policies to meet those more ambitious targets, some of them unveiled at April's U.S.-led climate summit.
Under current national plans, the Earth's climate would still heat up by 2.9C above pre-industrial times, nearly twice the most ambitious goal in the 2015 Paris Agreement of keeping the rise in global average temperatures to 1.5C.
Scientists say holding warming to that level gives the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, including devastating surges in hunger, poverty and displacement fuelled by even more extreme weather and sea level rise.
"It is clear the Paris Agreement is driving change, spurring governments into adopting stronger targets, but there is still some way to go, especially given that most governments don't yet have policies in place to meet their pledges," said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics.
Of the roughly 190 countries that ratified the Paris Agreement, just over 40% - representing about half of global emissions and a third of the global population - have now submitted strengthened emissions targets, the CAT analysis said.
It called on the rest to do so before the COP26 climate summit in November, singling out Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia as needing to rethink their plans.
Ahead of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue hosted virtually by Germany this week, the country's Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the CAT analysis showed "progress is possible in international climate action".
A few years ago, the world was on course for warming of 3.5C, she noted, adding the latest commitments to curb climate change were yielding improved projections but more 2030 targets were needed to effectively limit climate heating.
"Short-term progress in this decade will be crucial to success," she added.
The Petersberg Dialogue will bring together German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the United Nations Secretary-General and ministers from about 40 countries on Thursday and Friday.
Schulze said they would work on unfinished Paris accord rules on reporting requirements for greenhouse gases and how emissions reductions are traded and accounted, which are due to be finalised at November's COP26 conference.
Climate and development activists are also hoping for progress this week on finance to help poorer nations adopt clean energy and adapt to worsening extreme weather and rising seas.
Pressure is rising on Germany to double the level of funding it provides between now and 2025 to about 8 billion euros ($9.6 billion) a year, including an appeal last week from former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Without proactive and ambitious steps by Germany and other leading industrial powers to deliver their climate finance commitments to poorer countries, there is a risk of a growing trust deficit that will not be overcome by the COP26 summit," Ban wrote in the Handelsblatt newspaper.
That could have "potentially disastrous consequences for our planet", he warned.
There has been growing consternation that wealthy governments have so far failed to deliver the $100 billion a year they promised to vulnerable countries from 2020, even as talks are due to begin on increasing that goal starting in 2025.
Another sticking point is that only about a fifth of the finance provided has gone to efforts to adapt to quickening climate impacts, including flood prevention measures, switching to drought-tolerant crops or improving access to weather forecasts.
Alok Sharma, who will preside over the COP26 talks for Britain, said he hoped this week's dialogue would "keep the momentum going on getting climate finance flowing".
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(Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)
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