Biden victory could bring Paris goals 'within striking distance'

Joe Biden’s election victory could be a tipping point that brings the Paris Agreement's 1.5˚C target “within striking distance”, an independent scientific analysis suggests.

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The findings from Climate Action Tracker (CAT) show that Biden's 2050 net-zero emissions pledge could shave up to 0.14°C off global warming by the end of the century.

Coupled with China’s pledge to bring emissions to net-zero before 2060, and the EU, Japan and South Korea’s 2050 commitments, the researchers claim that limiting global temperature rises to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels may now be within reach.

“The US and China going to net-zero emissions would reduce our estimate of end-of-century warming to 2.3-2.4°C, taking the world 25-40% of the way towards limiting warming to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner organisation.

Biden has already promised to return the US to the Paris Agreement after it formally left the climate change pact last Wednesday.

The CAT analysis suggests that his plan for net-zero emissions, and related policies, would result in cumulative emissions reductions of around 75Gt CO2eq between 2020 and 2050.

A total of 126 countries have made similar announcements on net-zero emissions, and adding the US to the mix would cover 63% of global emissions.

Whether Biden will be able to implement his full net-zero plan depends on the majority in the Senate, however, there are workarounds with executive orders, and the 'We’re Still In' coalition of states and cities are already showing they are taking strong action at state level.

“This could be an historic tipping point: with Biden’s election, China, the US, EU, Japan and South Korea, two-thirds of the world economy and over 50% of global emissions would have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century commitments,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, another CAT partner organisation.

“These commitments are very close, if not within, 1.5°C-consistent pathways for this set of countries, and for the first time ever, puts the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C limit within striking distance.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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