Human activity is causing Earth’s atmosphere to heat up faster than any natural changes. This is leaving many ecosystems in peril.
Although November’s COP26 summit was the world’s first global climate agreement to explicitly identify fossil fuel consumption as a major driver for climate change, experts warn that it has not done enough to limit global warming below 2C. centigrade compared to pre-industrial levels—a key level of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Which countries are taking action and which aren’t?
Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a group of scientists, has examined the policies of 40 countries that contribute to the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The analysis shows that less developed countries are most likely to struggle to counter the effects of their richer neighbours.
Steve Varley, EY Global’s vice chairman of sustainability, stated that only a handful of developed markets are currently leading research, innovation, public funding and other areas of sustainability.
He shared his story NewsweekTo drive change, governments must work together and with businesses.
He said that “a small group of developed countries are leading the way in climate research and innovation, public funding, and at a moment when not enough green money’ flows to emerging markets where the climate’s impacts are felt most strongly.”
The Very Worst
(“Critically Insufficient” Countries)
CAT observes that this indicates that a country’s climate commitments and policies reflect minimal to no action, and are not in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Iran is one the few countries that have not ratified Paris Agreement. This effect has been exacerbated by the economic crisis.
Since 2018, international sanctions have led to a decrease of fossil fuel oil exports, but there has been a slowdown in adopting eco-friendly policies.
According to CAT analysts the economic effects of sanctions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed down climate policy developments further.
Russia proposed that its emissions be reduced by at least 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 in November 2020.
However, CAT analysts don’t consider the target to be an increase in climate action. “It is simply the lower bound (25-30 %).”) of the previous target range”
U.S. President Joe Biden criticised Russia—the world’s fifth-largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter—for not attending the COP26 climate summit.
CAT states that Russia must set a higher target for emission reductions, implement additional policies and provide additional financing.
According to CAT., Singapore’s climate policies are “minimal to none action” according to CAT. It said that this government policy is “not at any time consistent with the Paris Agreement.”
The Southeast Asian island state of a city-state is also thought to be too dependent on natural gas. CAT estimates that it provides 96 percent the country’s electricity.
CAT writes: “If all countries were to follow Singapore’s approach, warming could reach over 3C and up to 4C”—twice the upper target of the Paris Agreement.
Analysts at CAT call Thailand’s overall climate performance “weak” despite its good intentions.
Although Thai leaders have promised to move away from dependence on coal to natural gases over the next 20-years, little has been achieved.
CAT writes: “Until Thailand’s next wave of climate strategies and their accompanying mitigation policies are implemented, strengthened, and maintained by the CAT, Thailand’s climate targets & policies are “critically inadequate.”
According to CAT analysts, Turkey is at “a crossroads” when it comes to its energy future.
President Erdoğan’s government intends to decrease dependency on gas imports through increased renewable energy capacity, but at the same time plans to continue to use domestic coal for the foreseeable future.
CAT writes: “Turkey’s emissions will rise significantly under current policies. This is the first NDC [Nationally Determined Contributions]GHG emissions are allowed because the system is so weak. [Green House Gas]Emissions to almost double compared with current levels.
According to analysts, Vietnam has not developed policies to transition to a low carbon economy and has not made efforts to reduce emissions.
While there have been “positive developments” in the country’s renewable energy policies, CAT believes these are outweighed by plans to expand fossil fuels.
It wrote: “Vietnam’s track record is worse when compared to modelled domestic pathways and how much reductions need to be occurring within its borders with international assistance.”
Extremely poor performance
“Highly Insufficient Countries”
Noting CAT rates, these countries policies and actions were deemed to cause “rising, not falling, emissions”, which could lead to global temperature rising “upto 4C” by the end century.
Analysts at CAT consider Argentina’s actions and policies “not at all consistent” with the 1.5C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement.
According to the researchers, despite being in financial trouble, the country did not introduce any green measures of note in its most recent recovery stimulus plan.
Analysts found that although the government of former President Mauricio Madrigal declared a “climate crisis” in 2019, little has been done since.
Australia was among the countries that did not support COP26’s plans to increase 2030 targets at Egypt’s next year summit.
CAT writes that “GHG emissions in Australia have dipped as a result of a variety of factors, but effective Climate Policy is not one.”
Brazil’s President Jairbolsonaro did not attend the COP26 summit. South America’s largest country, however, pledged to reduce methane emissions and most importantly, stop illegal deforestation until 2030.
CAT is still critical about Brazil, writing: “There’s a lot of room for improvement in Brazilian policymaking regarding halting the growth of emissions, and Brazil’s deforestation remain a serious concern.”
Canada has been the most affected by climate change in many ways, including devastating forest fires and brutal heat waves.
CAT deems recent climate policy developments “positive” but they are not sufficient to address climate crisis.
The analysts added that Canada’s current policies would not be sufficient to achieve its target if fully implemented and are only in line for 4C warming. Canada is not meeting its fair-share contribution to climate change. Canada should also strengthen its policies and targets, and provide additional support for others.
The most striking headline from the COP26 climate conference was the agreement between China, the United States, and other major carbon polluters.
China submitted its “before 2060” carbon neutrality target to the summit.
However, CAT notes there is still space to accelerate China’s green revolution, writing: “To improve on its rating and become compatible with 2C (‘Almost sufficient’), China would need to peak emissions as early as possible, and decrease coal and other fossil fuel consumption at a much faster rate than currently planned —and set clear phase-out timelines.”
The South American country, which has a population of nearly 51 million, previously stated that it is essential to reduce deforestation as part of its climate action.
Although Colombia has mitigation targets for transport and energy, CAT states that “further actions are required.”
China and India exerted pressure on each other to reach a final COP26 agreement that promised only to “phase out” rather than “phase down” coal.
CAT however notes the difficulties faced by India and other developing countries to meet their commitments. It writes: “India has been adversely affected by COVID 19 in the second wave of the first half 2021, which further reduced the resilience for climate change vulnerable populations already at high risk of displacement from storms, floods and other climate catastrophes.”
After COP26, Indonesia established new rules for carbon trading to create a market mechanism to help it achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2030.
The CAT analysis however suggests that emissions will continue to “accelerate away from Paris compatible level.”
CAT has rated the former Soviet state of Central Asia “highly inadequate”. It argues that its climate policies and commitments do not conform to any interpretation of fair-share contributions and cause rising rather than falling emissions.
This forecast is despite Kazakhstan’s falling fossil fuel production as a result of the pandemic.
CAT rates Mexico’s climate policies and targets as “highly insufficient,” with one exception.
Mexico’s conditional Nationally Determined Contributions target, it states, “roughly stabilizes emissions at today’s level.”
The Mexican Ministry of Energy published a bill during the pandemic that effectively stopped private renewable energy investment in Mexico. It also prioritized the government’s ageing, fossil fuel-fired power stations.
New Zealand has a net zero emissions 2050 target goal. However, CAT finds its short-term strategies to be ineffective.
CAT writes: “New Zealand is increasingly relying upon the mitigation potential of land use and forestry to meet its target, rather than focusing on reducing emissions in high-emitting sectors.”
CAT states on its website that despite apparent improvements in Saudi Arabia’s climate action commitment, these “commitments don’t resolve concerns about its role of one of the top fossil fuel exporters in the world.”
CAT writes about the Middle Eastern Country, “Its updated Paris Agreement promise is explicitly based upon a scenario that has substantial fossil fuel exports. It also contains a “get-out clause” in case international climate change policies adversely affect these exports.
“Shortly before Saudi Aramco released its updated emissions pledges, the Saudi national oil company Saudi Aramco announced that they would be aiming to increase oil production during the next decade.”
Although there are positive signs that South Korea is making progress, CAT believes it lacks the speed and stringency to reach a path compatible with the 1.5C temperature limit of the Paris Agreement.
This is despite South Korea’s 2020 share in coal-fired power generation falling from 43 percent to 39%. However, fossil fuels still account to a large amount, more than two-thirds of the total supply.
United Arab Emirates
Although the U.A.E has shown signs of hope in its development of large-scale renewable and nuclear energy projects, the Middle East state’s emissions are expected to continue growing due to the expansion of its fossil fuel-based electricity sources.
CAT writes on their site: “In line its energy strategy, where coal is projected to reach a 12 per cent share of total electric generation in 2050,” CAT says. In May 2020, the UAE completed its first unit in its inaugural 2.4 GW coal fired power plant.
“The construction and operation of new coal-fired power plants is inconsistent with the need to phase down coal-fired electricity generation in the Middle East by 2034, in order to limit global warming to 1.5C.”
The country’s environmental forecasts have shown a slightly worse outlook, with projected emissions of 1 percent higher than the pre-COVID-19 estimates.
Despite the fact the Ukrainian government having approved its Economic Stimulus Program to stabilize the economy in May 2020.