Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Report shows nearly all countries off track to meet Paris Agreement climate goals

Just one signatory to the 2015 international climate accord is meeting requirements, according to a new analysis.

(CN) — Looking at dozens of countries responsible for 80% of the world's emissions, two research organizations tracking climate action determined Wednesday only Gambia is where it needs to be to hold back the warming of the globe by 1.5 degrees Celsius, the ultimate goal of the Paris Climate Accords.

A finger of a country that flanks the Gambia River in West Africa, the Republic of the Gambia stands apart from seven countries including the United Kingdom that the Climate Action Tracker's new rating system labels "almost sufficient." The United States and eight others are categorically insufficient, according to the report, which rates another 15 countries including China as "highly insufficient," and five countries — Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Thailand — as "critically insufficient." For those bottom five, the report warns, "global warming would reach beyond 4°C" if all governments were to follow their leads.

Merely insufficient is an improvement for the United States, which the report notes has seen a "U-turn" on climate change policy under President Joe Biden. After the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the tracker had marked the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gas as “critically insufficient” in its last survey.

There were 196 countries that signed on to the Paris accord, sometimes called the COP 21.

“The most important target date is 2030, by which time global emissions must be cut by 50%, and governments are nowhere near this,” the 25-page report says. “We estimate that with current actions global emissions will be at roughly today’s level in 2030, we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit.”

Wednesday's report says the Biden administration’s climate change proposals represent the most complete strategy the U.S. could take to address the issue. “However, it remains to be seen what comes out of the convoluted negotiations in Congress on the two major pieces of legislation before it,” it says.

In addition to the 27 member states of the EU, nearly 90 countries have submitted new or updated climate targets, referred to as nationally designated contributions. Together they cover about half of global greenhouse gas emissions, but China, which accounts for 25% of global emissions, has not officially submitted the more ambitious targets it is contemplating.

"This leaves over 70 countries that have not yet submitted anything, covering around one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions," according to the report, which singles out India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey from the collective known as the Group of 20.

It was just over a month ago that scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that intensifying floods and drought seen the world over are just a few irreversible side effects of climate change.

An intergovernmental body of the United Nations, the IPCC estimates that it could take a couple decades before reduced emissions translate to stabilized temperatures.

Pointing to that study, Wednesday's report says the next couple years represent the “last chance to keep 1.5°C alive."

 “The means to control climate change are already within reach,” the report says. “Limiting global temperature increase to 1.5˚C is no longer a matter of feasibility, but rather one of political will.”

New Climate Institute and Climate Analytics have worked together on the Climate Action Tracker since 2009, comparing government action on climate change from the 40 countries that account for 80% of today’s global emissions.

The Climate Action Tracker, which started looking at governments’ response to climate change in 2009, issues three briefings a year in hopes of bringing transparency to each country’s efforts. In a message sent through a spokesperson, CEO of Climate Analytics Bill Hare said this briefing went beyond assessing whether each country was engaged in a fair effort, instead seeking more nuance into whether their actions meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

“Overall, it’s not the best picture: our analysis shows that there’s a lot more work to do,” Hare said.

Wednesday's is the first report from the tracker to look at Iran, Thailand, Nigeria and Colombia.

Though the tracker has deemed the United Kingdom’s efforts sufficient in the past, it took that rating down a notch in the new analysis based on the U.K.'s failure commit to enough financing for developing countries.

Gambia is one such developing country. The report notes that sufficient funding could make or break the country's climate response plan.

Follow @jcksndnl
Categories / Environment, International, Science

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.