The recent wave of net zero targets has put the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C within striking distance. In this global update, the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) has calculated that global warming by 2100 could be as low as 2.1°C as a result of all the net zero pledges announced as of November 2020.
Included in the CAT’s new modelling is the announcement by China in September 2020 that it intends to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, which reduces the CAT end of century warming estimate by 0.2 to 0.3°C alone. Assuming carbon neutrality in the USA by 2050, as proposed by President-Elect Biden, would reduce warming by another 0.1°C. South Africa, Japan, South Korea and Canada have also recently announced net-zero targets. In total, 127 countries responsible for around 63% of emissions are considering or have adopted net zero targets.
Net zero targets are not enough, governments must adopt stronger 2030 targets
While 2050 net zero targets are commendable, governments must now adopt stronger 2030 targets (nationally determined contributions or NDCs) to deliver on their net zero goals, and close the remaining emissions gap to 1.5°C. The end of 2020 deadline to submit new and updated NDCs is fast approaching. These strengthened NDCs are critical to ensuring governments can meet their mid-century net zero targets. Governments must also develop detailed implementation plans to support these targets.
However, there remains little positive movement by governments to improve their 2030 NDC targets since Paris in 2015. As of November 2020, no large emitter had submitted a substantially updated NDC since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Moreover, governments’ current policies put them on a warming trajectory of 0.8°C higher than our optimistic net zero target assessment.
Paris is driving action
It is clear the Paris Agreement is driving climate action. On the eve of its five-year anniversary, a survey of past Climate Action Tracker assessments shows that the temperature estimates for end-of-century warming have been falling for both the targets and real-world emissions projections.
End of century warming estimates for real-world emissions have fallen by 0.7°C in the last five years. Our temperature estimate of real-world action based on all adopted national policies (‘current policies’ scenario) has substantially decreased by 0.7°C from 3.6°C in 2015 in to 2.9°C today. Implementation of new policies, increased use of renewable energy, a downturn in the use of coal and lower economic growth assumptions (both prior to and because of the pandemic) are responsible for the lion’s share of the drop.
End of century warming estimates for targets have fallen by 0.5°C due to the new net zero targets and in total by 1.4°C through Paris pledges. The Climate Action Tracker began analysing the effect of targets and pledges on warming in 2009. At that time, our estimate stood at 3.5°C. The first major improvement in this estimate occurred in the lead-up to the Paris summit in 2015, as governments began announcing their intended contributions (INDCs). By the time, the Paris Agreement was adopted, the CAT temperature estimate fell significantly to 2.7°C. Our current temperature estimate as of November 2020 is 2.6°C.
In the years between Paris and now, the estimate rose in the aftermath of the USA and Russia abandoning targets, then fell again, along with real world emission trends.
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.
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.
Ramping up energy storage: lessons for the EU
This paper explores how the EU can enhance its policy for a low-carbon future by learning from successful energy storage approaches in California, South Korea, and Australia.