Net-zero targets could limit global warming to 2.1˚C

Global warming could be limited to 2.1˚C above pre-industrial levels if national governments all meet their 2050 net-zero emission targets, bringing the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach.


That is according to new scientific analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which modelled the potential outcomes of emission commitments from China and US president-elect Joe Biden.

However, despite promising long-term climate targets, the researchers warned that all of the big emitters must strengthen their 2030 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to get on a net-zero pathway.

Under current government policies, the CAT’s warming projection for 2100 has fallen from 3.6˚C in 2015, to 2.9˚C today. 

“We see emissions continuing to rise through to 2030, which will not get them onto the kind of pathway that will allow governments to meet their ambitious net-zero commitments,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organisation.

“No large emitter has yet submitted a substantially updated NDC, and the emissions gap is huge. Short-term targets are not a little bit off, they are totally off. Near-term action and policies need to be ramped up considerably.”

CAT is an independent scientific analysis that measures government climate action against the globally agreed aim of holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing 1.5°C. 

Its latest briefing highlights how a total of 127 countries, responsible for around 63% of emissions are considering, or have adopted, net-zero targets.

This comes after CAT revealed last month that Biden's 2050 net-zero emissions pledge for the US could shave up to 0.14°C off global warming by the end of this century alone.

“Five years on, it’s clear the Paris Agreement is driving climate action,” said Prof Niklas Höhne of the NewClimate Institute, another CAT partner organisation. “The Paris Agreement introduced the goal of global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and now we’re seeing a wave of countries signing up to it.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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