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Firefighters combat a wildfire in Athens, Greece

Firefighters try to put out a fire as flames spread over a highway on August 5, 2021 in northern Athens, Greece. (Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

New Climate Analysis Shows Near Total Global Failure to Meet 1.5°C Targets

"An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed."

Andrea Germanos

A new analysis reveals a near total global failure of governments to have climate action and targets on track for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Released Wednesday by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the assessment rated just one nation,The Gambia, as "1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible," and found the United States' overall climate action—despite a welcome "U-turn on climate change" since the Trump administration—to be "insufficient."

The analysis, which covered policies of 36 nations and the European Union, framed the widespread failings as particularly glaring given the "absolute urgency" of climate action made clear by the most recent IPCC report, a publication United Nations chief António Guterres declared "a code red for humanity."

CAT, a watchdog effort of Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute, described a "2030 emissions gap" in projecting how governments' plans and current policies largely fall short of being on track to meet the 1.5˚C threshold of warming.

The analysis said "the IPCC is clear that getting onto a 1.5°C pathway means reducing emissions by 50% by 2030" and that meeting that goal "is no longer a matter of feasibility, but rather one of political will."

Such will appears to be lacking.

In a statement, Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute pointed to May, after U.S. President Joe Biden's "Leaders Summit on Climate” and the international Petersberg Climate Dialogue, when "we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments, but governments then had only closed the emissions gap by up to 14%."

“But since then," said Höhne, "there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Governments have now closed the gap by up to 15%, a minimal improvement since May. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.”

This latest assessment from CAT includes new factors in its ratings systems, reflecting net zero targets as well as "an overall rating, the domestic target, policies and action, fair share, climate mitigation finance (either on providing mitigation finance, or detailing what international support is needed), and land use and forestry (where relevant)."

Based on overall ratings, the U.K. is the only G20 nation deemed "almost sufficient," a classification that covers six other countries including Nepal and Costa Rica.

Like the U.S., the EU, Germany, Norway, and Japan's overall climate plans were assessed as "insufficient." Canada joined Brazil, Australia, India, and UAE as countries whose plans were deemed "highly insufficient."

A small group of countries had overall climate plans classified "critically insufficient."

"Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Thailand perform so badly on climate action," the analysis found, "that if all governments were to adopt this approach, global warming would reach beyond 4°C."

To move in the right direction, the analysis urged developed nations "to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition."

In terms of energy sources, all governments should take advantage of the falling costs of renewables to boost such installations while also ditching plans for any continued coal and gas infrastructure, the analysis said.

Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, stressed the need for swift action to rein in emissions.

"The IPCC has given the world a 'code red' warning on the dangers of climate change reinforcing the urgent need for the world to halve emissions by 2030," he said in a statement. "An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed."

"While many governments have committed to net zero," he said that "without near-term action achieving net zero is virtually impossible."

The publication was released on the heels of a global study revealing widespread climate anxiety in young people, with 58% of the 10,000 16-25-year-olds surveyed feeling "betrayed" by government inaction on the climate emergency.

"This study shouldn't be a moment of pity," said German climate activist Luisa Neubauer. "The adequate answer to this study would be drastic climate action."


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