In Paris, all governments solemnly promised to come to COP26 with more ambitious 2030 commitments to close the massive 2030 emissions gap that was already evident in 2015. Three years later the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C reinforced the scientific imperative, and earlier this year it called a climate “code red.” Now, at the midpoint of Glasgow, it is clear there is a massive credibility, action and commitment gap that casts a long and dark shadow of doubt over the net zero goals put forward by more than 140 countries, covering 90% of global emissions.
Policy implementation on the ground is advancing at a snail’s pace. Under current policies, we estimate end-of-century warming to be 2.7°C. While this temperature estimate has fallen since our September 2020 assessment, major new policy developments are not the driving factor. We need to see a profound effort in all sectors, in this decade, to decarbonise the world to be in line with 1.5°C.
Targets for 2030 remain totally inadequate: the current 2030 targets (without long-term pledges) put us on track for a 2.4°C temperature increase by the end of the century.
Since the April 2021 Biden Leaders’ Summit, our standard “pledges and targets” scenario temperature estimate of all NDCs and submitted or binding long-term targets has dropped by 0.3°C to 2.1°C, but this improvement is due primarily to the inclusion of the US and China’s net zero targets, now that both countries have submitted their long-term strategies to the UNFCCC.
There has been insufficient momentum from leaders and governments to increase 2030 climate targets ahead of, and at, Glasgow: NDC improvements submitted over the last year have reduced the emissions gap in 2030 by only 15-17%. The biggest absolute contributions to this narrowing come from China, EU and the US, though other countries with lower emissions levels have also improved their NDCs.
Contrary to the Paris Agreement’s requirement that each NDC update is a progression beyond the last, several governments have only resubmitted the same target as 2015 (Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Viet Nam), or submitted an even less ambitious target (Brazil, Mexico). Some have not made new submissions at all (Turkey and Kazakhstan), and Iran has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement. Even with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5°. Therefore, all governments need to reconsider their targets.
Globally, around 90% of emissions are now covered by net zero targets. While these targets are an important signal, and some have accelerated governments’ climate action, the quality of most remains questionable. If all the announced net zero commitments or targets under discussion are implemented, this would bring our temperature estimate for this “optimistic scenario” down to 1.8°C by 2100, with peak warming of 1.9°C. But this is only IF these targets are fully implemented, and it’s a big IF. Our analysis shows countries with an “acceptable” net zero rating cover only 6% of global emissions.
No single country that we analyse has sufficient short-term policies in place to put itself on track to its net zero target. The net zero CAT assessment also includes announcements made by governments which are not backed up by any national legislation, nor plans. Some lack critical information to allow for a full evaluation of the target’s likely impact, including whether net-zero is defined as CO2 only or covers all greenhouse gases. It also needs to be emphasised that our ‘optimistic’ assessment of end-of-century median warming of about 1.8°C is not Paris Agreement compatible and that warming of 2.4°C or more cannot be ruled out.
2030 actions and targets are more often than not inconsistent with net zero goals, so that the gap between current policies and net zero goals is now 0.9°C. This, we consider, is the credibility gap that Glasgow needs to address.
Unabated: the Carbon Capture and Storage 86 billion tonne carbon bomb aimed at derailing a fossil phase out
The climate talks at COP28 have centred around the need for a fossil fuel phase out. Our analysis quantifies the risk posed by restricting a phase out commitment to only ‘unabated’ fossil fuels.
No change to warming as fossil fuel endgame brings focus onto false solutions
The CAT's annual warming estimate has risen by 0.1˚C to 2.5˚C. The estimate is largely influenced by weak existing targets rather than shifts triggered by updated Nationally Determined Contributions.
When will global greenhouse gas emissions peak?
The IPCC says peaking before 2025 is a critical step to keep the 1.5°C limit within reach. With emissions set to rise in 2023, this leaves limited time to act. To assess if we can meet this milestone, we look at when global emissions might peak, as well as what we can do to get there in time.
Wind and solar benchmarks for a 1.5°C world
This report presents a detailed methodology for determining the amount of wind and solar capacity that is required for a country to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal. While the focus of the report is the method, it includes illustrative benchmarks for Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Germany, South Africa.
A 1.5°C future is possible: getting fossil fuels out of the Philippine power sector
The Philippines is also one of the fastest-growing developing countries: poverty is in decline, access to energy is rising and, with that, demand for energy services. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy system, accounting for 78% of power generation in 2022. This report sets out what the Philippines government needs to do to get the country’s power sector onto a 1.5˚C compatible emissions pathway, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.
Production Gap Report 2023
Governments, in aggregate, still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The persistence of the global production gap puts a well-managed and equitable energy transition at risk.
Emissions impossible: Unpacking CSIRO GISERA Beetaloo Middle Arm fossil gas emissions estimates
This report provides an independent evaluation of the CSIRO and GISERA assessments of the potential greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the exploitation of the Beetaloo fossil shale gas reserves.
Adjusting 1.5°C climate change mitigation pathways in light of adverse new information
This study uses an integrated assessment model to explore how 1.5°C pathways could adjust in light of new adverse information, such as a reduced 1.5°C carbon budget, or slower-than-expected low-carbon technology deployment.
The effects of political knowledge use by developing country negotiators in Loss and Damage negotiations
This article traces how developing country negotiators used knowledge to further their interests in loss and damage negotiations from 2003 to 2013.
Railway development: lessons for the EU
This paper analyses how EU railway policy for a low-carbon future can be enhanced, drawing insights from Japan and Switzerland.