The Paris Agreement faces its first major test in 2020 against the backdrop of a worrying growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since the adoption of the landmark agreement in 2015. Promising signs of ambition are emerging from all corners of the globe, but far more is needed to limit emissions and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.
Most governments are currently prioritizing one of two complementary approaches for addressing climate change in the lead-up to 2020. This is according to a joint analysis by UNDP and UNFCCC which took the world’s pulse on ambition and provides the most comprehensive review to date of intentions for 2020. Some are revising climate plans previously submitted under the Paris Agreement that stretch until 2025 or 2030, while others are preparing longer-term strategies to decarbonize their economies.
Climate action plans known as “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) are the backbone of the Paris Agreement. Almost all parties - 184 out of 197 - have already submitted their first plans, which typically set goals to curb GHG emissions by 2025 or 2030 and may also include measures to make economies and populations more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The Climate Action Summit in New York City on 23 September, championed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, therefore provides a key opportunity for nations to announce bold new plans to address climate change through mitigation and adaptation and build on the gathering momentum.
The existing NDCs set the world on track for a rise in emissions of about 10.7 percent above 2016 levels by 2030, according to UNFCCC analysis. That is starkly at odds with the UN Secretary-General’s call for deep cuts. Among further worrying trends, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2018 from 2017, the highest rate of growth since 2013.
The most critical factor limiting raised ambition in developing countries is access to or availability of finance, according to the joint UNDP/UNFCCC analysis. Political will and engaged citizens are also key. Global climate-related finance flows increased by 17 percent in the period 2015-2016, compared to 2013- 2014, reaching $681 billion in 2016. That is still well short of the needs for a cleaner and more sustainable future. And many developing nations say their NDCs are conditional on finance.
Developing country governments are making significant progress to strengthen systems and put in place the required NDC architecture needed for successful implementation. Progress includes mechanisms to improve coordination between ministries, improved regulatory and legal frameworks, mainstreaming of NDC target, and strengthened systems for monitoring and reporting of NDC progress.
We can say that 2020 is emerging as a critical year for galvanising support from across all of society for bolder climate action so that greater ambition is locked in as quickly as possible. In order to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, decisions need to be taken and enacted within the next two years.
For more information, please see the full report attached below.
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Photo credit: UNHCR
The views expressed in the blog and the report attached are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the SDG Philanthropy Platform. The SDG Philanthropy Platform is a global initiative that connects philanthropy with knowledge and networks that can deepen collaboration, leverage resources and sustain impact, driving SDG delivery within national development planning. It is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Brach Family Charitable Foundation, and many others.