More than a dozen countries have updated their carbon reduction commitments under the Paris agreement, without waiting for the 2020 target date to increase their climate ambition. And an analysis by the World Resources Institute indicates that the majority have strengthened their goals.
“Encouragingly, many of the revisions go beyond countries’ previous submissions, shifting to more stringent targets, increasing transparency, and reflecting recent developments in knowledge and technology,” write analysts Mengpin Ge and Kelly Levin, although some countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) “have lowered their ambition or made tweaks that make their commitment less clear.”
Days after the WRI published its progress report, the United Kingdom told the UN it would adopt a net-zero emissions target. Climate Minister Claire Perry “did not commit to lowering the UK’s own 2050 target below the 80% cut by 2050 mandated by the country’s climate act,” writes Climate Home Deputy Editor Megan Darby. But the UN submission said the UK “will need to legislate for a net-zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading.”
The WRI report identifies Argentina, Indonesia, and Morocco as countries that have adopted more stringent targets. Morocco also leads a list of six countries that have unveiled new commitments and actions, followed by Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Morocco’s plan now takes in 55 climate mitigation actions, many of them conditional on international funding.
Argentina, Belize, Benin, Canada, Indonesia, Mali, Morocco, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay have all strengthened their commitments to climate change adaptation, WRI notes, while nine countries have either specified the emission levels they intend to achieve or presented more information on how their NDCs will be implemented or monitored. “This transparency is critically important, because it provides an indication of where emissions are headed,” Ge and Levin write.
Bahamas, Benin, Mali, and New Zealand have all weakened their NDCs in some way, although newly-elected New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since committed the country to a zero carbon footprint by 2050.
The WRI analysts note that “none of these changes compare to the negative message sent by the United States,” where Donald Trump has vowed to “immediately cease implementation” of his country’s NDC. But they still stress the importance of the positive message from other parts of the world.
“Addressing climate change requires decisive leadership from all countries to step up their efforts as quickly as possible—and to make sure they align with the long-term emissions reductions required to avoid the worst impacts,” they write. “Countries that have already strengthened their efforts should serve as a model for others to follow.”