Why we need high ambition at COP26


The first day of COP26 is dedicated to the theme of high ambition. What is high ambition and why do we need it? One of the goals of this COP is to secure global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5C within reach. In order to do this, countries need to have strong nationally determined contributions (NDC).

According to the UNFCCC, NDC’s are the “heart of the Paris Agreement” as they outline the plans of each country to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate impacts. These actions will determine whether we are on track to keep warming below 2C. According to Climate Action Tracker, before new COP 26 pledges were made, current policy pathways have a greater than 97% of exceeding 2C.

CAT Thermometer 2021.05 3BarsText

As of October 31, countries have submitted new NDC targets in time for COP26, and 21 of those submitted stronger NDC’s, including big country emitters like the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, and the EU. Countries that did not increase ambition in their new NDC’s include Australia, The Russian Federation, and Brazil. However, according to the UN Environment Programme, in their latest Emissions Gap Report, “new and updated Nationally Determined Contributions only take 7.5% off predicted 2030 emissions, while 55% is needed to meet the 1.5°C Paris goal.” The latest climate pledges for 2030 would put the world on track for a 2.7C of global warming.

“There has been progress, but not enough,” he added.” That is why we especially need the biggest emitters, the G20 nations, to come forward with stronger commitments to 2030 if we are to keep 1.5c in reach over this critical decade,” Alok Sharma, COP26 president said in an interview.

Why is it important that we keep below 2C of warming? An infographic by  Carbon Brief shows us what happens at 1.5C and 2C:

1.5C vs 2C final

There is also a podcast produced by Climate UEA with Rachel Warren talking about the emerging impacts of climate change:

“The world has to wake up to the imminent peril we face as a species. Nations need to put in place the policies to meet their new commitments, and start implementing them within months. They need to make their net-zero pledges more concrete, ensuring these commitments are included in NDCs, and action brought forward. They then need to get the policies in place to back this raised ambition and, again, start implementing them urgently.

It is also essential to deliver financial and technological support to developing nations – so that they can both adapt to the impacts of climate change already here and set out on a low-emissions growth path,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Anderson.

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