Cop26 pledges on coal, cars, forests and methane ‘will have limited impact’

Climate Action Tracker reports emissions will not be cut by the 45% required to save the planet

Pledges on coal, cars, forests and methane at Cop26 will have only a limited effect in avoiding dangerous global warming, analysis suggests.

The sectors' announcements have been praised by the UK as real action, alongside negotiations aimed at increasing efforts by countries to tackle their emissions.

Initial analysis from Climate Action Tracker said the deals could cut emissions by about 2.2 billion tonnes.

Pledges close by only 9 per cent the gap between emissions put into the atmosphere in 2030 and what is needed to limit dangerous warming, the analysis found.

Scientists warn that the world must cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 as part of efforts to keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Beyond that level, the most severe impacts of more extreme weather, rising seas and crop failures will be felt.

But there is a huge gap between that figure and what countries have planned to their cut emissions over the next decade.

Many nations have updated their plans for cutting climate pollution by 2030 in the past year, which reduced the emissions gap that previously existed by about 15 to 17 per cent.

That means the increased national action promised leading to Glasgow and the sector pledges together have reduced the gap by about a quarter.

But global emissions will still be nearly twice as high in 2030 as what they should be for the world to make the 1.5°C limit, the analysis said.

They urged all governments to reconsider their targets towards the next climate conference in November 2022, in Cairo, to jointly enhance their action.

They recommend governments update their national plans, known as nationally determined contributions, under the UN process, if they had not included the sector initiatives in their targets.

If the initiatives gather more signatures, they could further reduce the gap by several billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, the analysts said.

But they raised concerns over whether the declarations, such as on stopping deforestation, would be be realised.

The analysis only includes the signatories of the various initiatives by November 10, and only counts reductions that are not already planned for in countries’ initiatives.

“It is not surprising that the effect of the Cop26 sectoral initiatives beyond national climate targets is initially small," said Prof Dr Niklas Hohne of the NewClimate Institute, one of the Climate Action Tracker's partner organisations.

“These initiatives are designed for those that do not sign immediately.

“The pressure of being put on the spot will help to grow the membership of the initiatives and enhance the effect beyond national climate targets in the long run.”

Updated: November 14th 2021, 4:39 AM