The Paris Agreement, which was adopted on December 12, 2015, by 195 countries, aims to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Each country has set its own targets, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement countries` targets vary widely depending on their level of development, economic priorities, and historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. Developed countries, which are responsible for the majority of historical emissions, have committed to reducing their emissions by greater amounts than developing countries.
The United States, the second-largest emitter, has pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 levels by 2025. The European Union, which is responsible for around 10 percent of global emissions, has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. China, the world`s largest emitter, aims to reach peak emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
India, the third-largest emitter, has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 33-35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to increase its share of renewable energy to 40 percent of its electricity mix by 2030. Brazil, which is responsible for around 2 percent of global emissions, has committed to reducing its emissions by 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Other countries have set more ambitious targets. The Marshall Islands, a low-lying Pacific island nation that is highly vulnerable to sea-level rise, has pledged to reduce its emissions by 32 percent below 2010 levels by 2025 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Costa Rica, a small Central American country, aims to become carbon neutral by 2050.
While the Paris Agreement countries` targets are important steps in the right direction, they are not sufficient to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to the United Nations, the current NDCs would result in a temperature increase of around 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which would have disastrous consequences for the planet.
To achieve the Paris Agreement`s goals, countries need to significantly increase their ambition and implementation of climate policies and measures. This requires political will, international cooperation, and mobilization of private sector finance. The upcoming UN climate summit, COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November 2021, provides an important opportunity for countries to strengthen their commitments and accelerate climate action.