Climate Change Conference

COP21, governments aren’t doing well. Their promises are insufficient

Secondo l’Onu, le promesse di riduzione dei gas a effetto serra avanzate finora non basteranno a limitare la crescita della temperatura a 2ºC entro il 2100.

As of the COP19, the climate change conference held in Warsaw in 2013, governments decided to officially declare their promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Just a few weeks ahead of the COP21, to be held in Paris, 155 countries let their promises be known. However, they vary a lot from one another.


I leader di tutto il mondo si incontreranno a dicembre a Parigi per la Cop 21 ©Sean Gallup/Getty Images
World’s leaders will meet in Paris in December for the COP21 ©Sean Gallup/Getty Images


For instance, the US declared an emissions decrease of 26-28% by 2025 (compared to 2005 levels), whilst the European Union set a 40% decrease by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). India pledged for a decrease of 33-35%, whilst Russia aims at a 25-30% decrease. On the other hand, China didn’t promise a drop, but a “maximum peak” to be reached by 2030. Other governments decided to measure their decrease considering the “Business as usual” (BAU), instead of calculating emissions on an annual basis. In this case, decreases are calculated considering the emissions governments would reach if no action is taken.




In order to make those pledges clearer and understand their real value, the United Nations has provided a report considering 146 intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), communicated by 1 October 2015. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), explained that – to date – such declarations “have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7°C”. This means the rise will be way higher than that set by governments (2°C), necessary to avoid catastrophic consequences.


Onu e ong concordano: stanti gli impegni attuali dei governi, non si centreranno gli obiettivi prefissati di limitazione della crescita della temperatura globale © Joe Raedle/Getty Images
United Nations and NGOs: considering governments’ promises, the goals set to limit the global temperature rise will be not meet © Joe Raedle/Getty Images


Therefore, promises are not enough. Indeed, NGOs consider the UN evaluation to be optimistic. According to Nicolas Hulot, President of the French Fondation Nicolas-Hulot and France’s specialist reporter at COP21, we are going to exceed 3°C. For this reason, he believes governments must periodically review their commitments. “The countries of the G20, responsible for three quarter of global emissions, could take on this initiative and redefine their pledges starting from 2016 or 2017”.


World Leaders Gather For G20 Summit In Brisbane


Not to mention the recent news about the upward review of China’s data on emissions. The world’s giant, responsible for most of the global greenhouse gas emissions, underestimated the figures on its use of coal. About a billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere was not considered, an amount equal to Germany’s total emissions in a year.


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