(CU)_As UN climate talks in Glasgow enter their final days, the possibility of reaching a deal slashing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C, has become increasingly remote. However, all is not lost in these efforts to tackle the climate crisis, as a recent study has revealed that several major commitments made by global leaders during the conference has brought the world closer to the pathway to reaching the Paris Agreement goal.
According to Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis conducted by Climate Analytics and the NewClimate Institute, the pledges made on methane emissions, deforestation, phasing-out of coal and transition to zero emissions in the transport sector over the past couple of weeks represent a significant cuts in carbon emissions of up to 2.2 gigatonnes, which is equivalent to the combined emissions of UK, Germany and Japan. This is in addition to the commitments previously made under national climate plans.
However, this is dependent on how committed governments are in making good on their promises, which most countries have fallen short of in the past.
According to Niklas Höhne, a founding partner of NewClimate Institute, while these figures still suggest that we are heading for catastrophe, the outlook could improve if more countries sign up.
“It is not surprising that the effect of the COP26 sectoral initiatives beyond national climate targets is initially small. These initiatives are designed for those that do not sign immediately. The pressure of being put on the spot will help to grow the membership of the initiatives and enhance the effect beyond national climate targets in the long run,” he noted.
One of the major achievements of the summit so far is the Global Methane Pledge, first announced by the United States and the European Union in September, to which more than 100 countries signed up at COP26. Under the agreement, the countries have vowed to reduce their methane emissions 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the end of this decade.
Another key milestone was the leaders’ declaration on forests and land use, with 137 leaders having signed up to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. Meanwhile, the contributions of the transport sector to global carbon emissions did not go unnoticed, as leaders of 22 countries pledged to reach a 100 per cent share of new cars and vans sales being zero emission by 2035, for leading markets, and 2040 for other regions.
One of the major objectives of this year’s Conference of the Parties was to “consigning coal to history”. Although a deal to end coal burning was not reached, fort-six nation joined an initiative, under which bigger economies pledged to stop using coal in the 2030s, while for smaller economies, the deadline is the 2040s.