Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation

29/04/2020 - Achieving the overall goals of the Paris Agreement will require a deep reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, ideally by around 40%–50% by 2030. However, current national implementation of climate policies remains insufficient, yielding only around 5.5% reduction in emissions by 2030. The study was coordinated by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Utrecht University in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and was published in Nature Communications. The findings are a contribution to the global evaluation of the Paris Agreement, held during the next three years.
Five years after the Paris Agreement: Large gap between promises and current implementation
Not on track to fulfilling the Paris Agreement: Different paths modelled in the study (click to enlarge). Roelfsema et al, fig. 1

Although the UN climate conference COP26 is postponed to next year, the Paris Agreement’s goals are looming. Science has shown that in order to meet the global target of the climate agreement in a cost-optimal way, a reduction in global emissions by 40%–50% is required. In their pledged national contributions (NDCs), all countries are expected to set out how they will meet the targets. Countries are expected to update their pledged NDCs before the next COP in 2021.

The international team of scientists has now inventoried the most important policies implemented in seven G20 countries and regions, focusing on Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States. Their study identifies a large gap between the impact of implemented climate policies and the reductions consistent with the overall goal of the Paris Agreement in all countries.

Employing multiple models and inventorying the most important policies implemented in seven G20 countries and regions, the researchers find that the impact of the G20 policies would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.5 to 5.0 Gigaton COequivalent by 2030. That corresponds to a reduction of 5.5% compared to a situation where no climate policies and targets were implemented.

But not only do the actual reductions fall significantly short of the targets. Also the pledged contributions by the seven large countries and regions under scrutiny will not do the trick: If implemented, those contributions would lead to an additional reduction of about 5 to 10 Gigaton COequivalent, equalling an emission reduction of about 17% by 2030, compared against a scenario without emission reductions.

So, although the study shows that policies are indeed being implemented, it also identifies a large gap between the Paris goal and countries' pledged contribution, and an even larger gap regarding the policies that are actually being implemented. Yet any delay in action will either lead to increasing additional costs, or even a failure to achieve the Paris goal. 

Article: Mark Roelfsema, Heleen L. van Soest, Mathijs Harmsen, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Christoph Bertram, Michel den Elzen, Niklas Höhne, Gabriela Iacobuta, Volker Krey, Elmar Kriegler, Gunnar Luderer, Keywan Riahi, Falko Ueckerdt, Jacques Despres, Laurent Drouet, Johannes Emmerling , Stefan Frank, Oliver Fricko, Matthew Gidden, Florian Humpenöder, Daniel Huppmann, Shinichiro Fujimori, Kostas Fragkiadakis, Keii Gi, Kimon Keramidas, Alexandre C. Köberle, Lara Aleluia Reis , Pedro Rochedo, Roberto Schaeffer, Ken Oshiro, Zoi Vrontisi, Wenying Chen, Gokul C. Iyer, Jae Edmonds, Maria Kannavou, Jiang Kejun, Ritu Mathur, George Safonov, Saritha Sudharmma Vishwanathan. Taking stock of national climate policies to evaluate implementation of the Paris Agreement. Nat Commun 11, 2096 (2020).

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