The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a long-term goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to achieve this goal, countries that are parties to the agreement have made commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2020, five years after the agreement was signed, countries were supposed to submit updated pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), outlining their emissions reduction targets for the next decade. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have delayed submitting their updated pledges.
So far, the updated pledges that have been submitted are not ambitious enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the pledges submitted by countries would result in a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, far above the 1.5 or 2-degree target.
The UNEP report also notes that reducing emissions by 7.6% per year from 2020 to 2030 would be needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This means that countries need to make much more ambitious pledges than they have so far.
Some countries, however, have made more ambitious pledges than others. The European Union, for example, has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. China, the world`s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has pledged to peak its emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
The United States, which withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration, has rejoined under President Joe Biden. The Biden administration has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and has set a target of reducing emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
Despite these more ambitious pledges, there is a long way to go to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Urgent action is needed from all countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, provides an opportunity for countries to come together and agree on more ambitious emissions reduction targets. It is crucial that they do so to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.