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‘Transformational Ramping Up’ Can Deliver 50% Emissions Reduction by 2030

It will take a “transformational ramping up” with all the world’s biggest emitters fully onboard. But with a 50% improvement in emission reduction targets for 2030, the countries attending this year’s UN climate negotiations in Madrid can get back on track to meet the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement, Berlin-based Climate Analytics concludes in a report released on the eve of the conference.

While the analysis reinforces the massive gap in countries’ climate action to date, it also shows that the cost of shifting to renewable energy has fallen dramatically since 2015, when countries developed the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement that embody their commitments to date to draw down their emissions and address the climate crisis.

“Getting NDCs in line with the 1.5°C limit requires a transformational ramping up of ambition for the period to 2030 and beyond,” the group stresses. “This means collective improvement in ambition that yields a 50% reduction from the 2030 emissions levels implied by current NDCs. This level of ambition would need to be part of long-term strategies to enable sustained emission reductions over the following decades.”

Climate Analytics says its analysis indicates that:

• All countries will have to commit to more ambitious climate plans, with the big emitters leading the way.

• A 35% reduction from the 2030 emissions levels implied by current NDCs would be a good start, but would fall short of the 1.5°C target, coming in at just below 2.0°C. A 20% reduction in 2030 targets would put the 1.5°C target beyond reach, and ultimately drive average global warming above 2.0°.

• Failing to ramp up carbon cuts now “risks locking in fossil fuel-based infrastructure, thus slowing the pace of transformation and making it more costly, with a large risk of stranded assets.”

• Greater “transparency, clarity, and integrity” in next year’s updated NDCs “make it easier to assess collective progress and identify opportunities for improvement,” as long as it’s paired with commitments to faster, deeper carbon cuts.

Like UN Secretary General António Guterres, Climate Analytics says a more rigorous response to the climate crisis is achievable. It’s also “economically beneficial and is already happening in many sectors and countries.” Due to the “remarkable cost decrease” in renewable energy technologies since most NDCs were prepared and/or submitted to the UN in 2015, “countries could achieve much higher emission reductions at the same or even lower cost than what was foreseen for their current NDCs,” the organization notes. “These cost reductions can be the springboard for transformational ambition in NDCs in 2020.”

That activity, meanwhile, can support a host of other sustainable development objectives. “For example, shifting to renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels can reduce air pollution and its associated health impacts, improve energy access in rural areas, and provide employment.”