Climate: the world still very far from the objectives of the Paris Agreement


Less than half of the 200 or so signatories to the agreement have honored their commitments. The United States wants to create a new dynamic.

Joe Biden chose April 22, Earth Day, to symbolically mark the United States’ return to the center of climate diplomacy. A great virtual raid during which the American president will above all be keen to prove his credibility, in particular by announcing more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction objectives for his country, the second largest emitter on the planet.

This meeting will serve more generally as a launching pad for the COP26, supposed to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, next November, a year after its postponement due to a pandemic. A decisive summit where the balance sheet of global ambitions will be drawn up six years after the Paris agreement of 2015 which aimed to limit global warming to below 2 ° C (or even 1.5 ° C if possible) compared to the preindustrial era.

An unprecedented drop

But we already know that the account is not there. “Climate policies are still not up to the challenge», Deplored the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, a few months ago. The United Nations estimates that emissions should be reduced by 7.6% every year between 2020 and 2030 if we want to respect the trajectory of the Paris agreement. However, except in 2020, where the sharp economic slowdown due to the Covid-19 crisis led to an unprecedented 7% drop in carbon dioxide emissions, they are constantly increasing, according to the annual reports of the Global Carbon Project.

It must be said that the Paris Agreement left States free to set their own commitments in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, called “contributions”, determined at the national level, and that no binding mechanism required them to Respect them… These NDCs were also supposed to be revised upwards every five years and countries theoretically had until December 31, 2020 to send the UN an updated version of their targets. But, to date, less than half of the 200 or so signatories to the agreement (including the European Union) have complied with the instructions. China, responsible for more than a quarter of global emissions, has not yet done so, for example …

The consequences of global warming

Yet a report released last week by the World Meteorological Organization reminds the world of its responsibilities. He notes that the year 2020 was one of the three hottest on record, with an average temperature at the surface of the globe which has already exceeded by 1.2 ° C that of the pre-industrial period of reference (1850-1900). . According to the WMO, there is also at least a one in five chance that this average temperature will exceed the threshold of 1.5 ° C set by the Paris Agreement by 2024.

The World Meteorological Organization lists the consequences of this warming: record reduction in sea ice, rising water levels, increase in extreme phenomena. She recalls, for example, that “With 30 named storms, the 2020 hurricane season in the North Atlantic has broken all records“. It also points to the human impact, estimating that nearly 10 million people were forced to move in the first half of the year in connection with the consequences of global warming.

Faced with the observation of “absolute urgency“, The Élysée sees in the return of the United States the”reconstitution of a universal front in this common fight», With great powers such as Europe, the United States and China at the helm. Because as Lola Vallejo, director of the climate program at IDDRI (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations) reminds us, “climate issues are sanctuarized and remain one of the few areas where joint declarations and ongoing international collaboration still take place“.

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