Headline grabbing announcements in the first week of COP26 was given a reality check this week. The Climate Action Tracker released a landmark assessment showing that with all pledges, including those made in Glasgow, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be around twice as high as necessary to prevent breaching the1.5C temperature limit.

Just days before COP26 closes, vulnerable countries continue to fight to secure the promise of the Paris Agreement.  

“Failure is perhaps accepting that there isn’t a future for my country.  It’s not acceptable,” said Tina Stege, Climate Change Envoy of the Marshall Islands.

“We will continue to work to make sure that this COP puts in place what needs to be there to keep the door open for 1.5,” added Stege.

The Climate Action Tracker has provided an analysis that tracks government climate action on a regular basis since 2009.  It measures climate action against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of holding warming well below 2 degrees, pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

The independent scientific analysis is a collaboration between Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute. Climate Analytics has been working closely with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in the Pacific region on the IMPACT Project since 2016.

The latest update released in Glasgow on 9 November shows that stalled momentum from leaders and governments on their short-term targets has narrowed the 2030 emissions gap by only 15 – 17% over the last year.

With the 2030 pledges alone, without longer term targets, global temperature increase will be at 2.4 degrees in 2100.

“The vast majority of 2030 actions and targets are inconsistent with net zero goals: there’s a nearly one-degree gap between government current policies and their net zero goals,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner organisation.  

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”

Despite the call for ambitions targets and commitments from Parties to the Paris Agreement to be outlined in their updated NDC, several have resubmitted the same target as in 2015.  Some have submitted even less ambitious targets, and other have not made new submissions at all.

Governments are called to focus on closing the credibility gap in the final days of COP26. To do so they need to increase their 2030 mitigation ambition and close the finance gap which is crucial for developing countries to reduce their emissions to 1.5-degree levels.

The Climate Action Tracker highlighted coal and gas as the key drivers of this bleak outlook.

“We can’t just have promises of what we are going to do we actually have to have actions to back them up for example as we have outlined in our High Ambition Coalition Statement, policies on phasing out coal, policies on methane, ending of fossil fuel subsidies - these are the concrete action which need to happen now,” said Stege.

Days away from COP26 ending, the Pacific may need to look to COP27 and then every year thereafter to reach 1.5-degrees, instead of waiting another five years.

“If the massive 2030 gap cannot be narrowed in Glasgow, governments must agree to come back next year, by COP27, with new and stronger targets. Today’s leaders need to be held to account for this massive 2030 gap. If we wait another five years and only discuss 2035 commitments, the 1.5°C limit may well be lost,” said Prof. Niklas Höhne, of New Climate Institute, the other CAT partner organisation.

This was echoed by the Marshall Islands, for whom a 1.5-degree world is a question of survival. 

“We have to come back to make sure that Nationally Determined Contributions are aligned with 1.5 and if they are not aligned now, and it’s clear that they are not, we have to have something in place that gets us back to the table until those targets are delivered,” said Stege.

Released on 9 November 2021, further information on the press conferences and the CAT update can be found via the links below.  The Twenty-Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change is held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021.

To view the press conference with Climate Action Tracker:  https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/climate-analytics

To view the press conference with the Marshall Islands: https://unfccc-cop26.streamworld.de/webcast/republic-of-marshall-islands

To find out more on the CAT report:  https://climateactiontracker.org/press/Glasgows-one-degree-2030-credibility-gap-net-zeros-lip-service-to-climate-action/