3 August, 2020

Incremental improvements of 2030 targets insufficient to achieve the Paris Agreement goals


Andreas Geiges, Alexander Nauels, Paola Yanguas Parra, Marina Andrijevic, Bill Hare, Peter Pfleiderer, Michiel Schaeffer, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner

By aligning the next round of carbon cutting targets with the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement, governments could halve the massive GDP losses in tropical countries and other severe climate impacts that would otherwise be expected by the end of this century under current climate action, according to a study published today in journal Earth System Dynamics.

This study takes governments’ current Paris Agreement climate pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and analyses the expected severity of climate impacts if they do not improve these pledges at all or if they make only incremental improvements, and compares these with a transformational, 1.5°C compatible pathway.

By incremental improvements, researchers describe a collective emissions reduction of less than 33% by 2030 compared with current NDCs. A transformational improvement, in line with the safer temperature limit, entails a 50% emissions reduction by 2030 compared with current NDCs.

The Paris Agreement requires governments to issue a new set of climate plans this year in the run up to the postponed UN climate summit in Glasgow. These plans, which are meant to be communicated every five years, should further align governments’ policies with the Agreement’s goal of holding temperature increase to well below 2°C of warming and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C by the end of this century.

Governments’ current climate plans will result in approximately 3°C of warming above pre-industrial levels, setting the world on course for severe impacts such as significant economic damage, sea-level rise and more extreme heat.