Recently, 146 countries submitted their national plans to fight climate change. Now, the United Nations (UN) has reviewed and assessed the plans - with mixed results.
UN officials report that the submissions, as they are currently written, will not prevent global temperatures from rising by more than the two degrees Celsius (2C) threshold of danger.
The UN reports that despite the national climate plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the total carbon emitted on a global scale will continue to grow.
Despite this news, the UN does have some good news. The report says the INDCs submitted by the countries constitute a huge step forward and that the 2C goal could still be “within reach.”
Even though the INDCs have some holes, the UN believes they will combine and create the cornerstone of a legally binding, worldwide treaty that should be ratified in December.
As of now, the INDCs cover about 86% of global carbon emissions - which is four times the percentage of carbon emissions covered by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Earth’s first treaty aimed at carbon cutting.
The UN does acknowledge, however, that when viewed as a whole, the INDCs indicate a rise in worldwide temperatures of 2.7 degrees Celsius “above the pre-industrial level” is likely to happen.
The dreaded 2C rise in temperature is significant because if it happens, it will result in major and dangerous impacts on climate, which will especially affect the globe’s indigent populations.
Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, said the INDCs were a wonderful first step. She noted that, “The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7C by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs.”
One key determination reached by the UN is that if countries strictly adhere to the INDCs, per capita emissions will be reduced 9% by 2030.
Yet, when compared to 2010 levels, overall emissions could be up to 22% higher in 2030.
Another major concern of the UN is that about 25% of the reduction of total global emissions are strictly conditional upon monetary support from the world’s richer countries.