How COP26 Climate Pledges Compare in Run-up to Earth Day
Ahead of the Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by President Biden on April 22-23 this week – during which the US is expected to set an example by announcing its 2030 emission target – BloombergNEF’s (BNEF) published the How COP26 Climate Pledges Compare in Run-up to Earth Day report today. The report compares G20 country climate commitments with the aim of bringing clarity to various methods, structures and baselines that countries are using for their respective pledges.
Please find the executive summary of the report below.
How COP26 Climate Pledges Compare in Run-up to Earth Day – Executive Summary:
- Based on the change in absolute volumes of emissions 2010-30, the U.K., EU and Brazil have the most ambitious 2030 targets. All three parties’ pledges would also see them doing their part to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – one of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- In contrast, developing countries – notably Turkey, India and China – could meet their 2030 NDC targets while increasing their emissions substantially. And because they are such major emitters, their contributions would assure that G-20 emissions overall rise by more than half.
- Emerging economies like India and China often peg their targets to emissions per unit of GDP (‘emission intensity’). This goal type can promote decarbonization, while allowing for economic growth. On this basis, the U.K. and EU still take the top two spots. China finishes 7th and India 11th – higher than the ranking based on absolute volumes. However, their intensity targets are not aggressive enough to ensure a global temperature increase of less than 2 degrees.
- Governments tend to set emissions per capita goals if they expect significant population growth. Today, India has lowest per capita emissions while major fossil-fuel producers and consumers Canada, Australia and Saudi Arabia are at the high end. On a per capita basis, all but five of the G-20 countries’ goals would result in lower emissions. But only the U.K. reaches a level below 3.5 metric tons per person – our estimate for the level required for a 1.5-degree target. India remains at the lower end and would be aligned with a 2-degree target using this metric.
- The fourth way of setting an NDC and gauging its ambition involves measuring the gap between emissions if the target is met and what emissions would have been absent a target. We refer to this metric as the ‘gap to business-as-usual (BAU) scenario’.
- We calculated countries’ BAU emissions using estimates for GDP and population forecasts, and trends in energy consumption and emissions. The 2030 estimate was then compared with emissions if a country’s NDC target was achieved. Based on this, only the EU-27 would be aligned with a 2-degree scenario as its target requires significant abatement. For seven G-20 nations, including China and India, emissions under their 2030 targets would be higher than BAU – ie, their goals incentivize no abatement.
- In an effort to unify clashing methodologies, BNEF has created aggregate country scores. Under our basic methodology, a country earns five points if it is expected to contribute its share toward achieving a 1.5-degree scenario under any of the four measurement methodologies, creating a maximum of 20 points per country. Parties received three points under any methodology where they met a 2-degree threshold. Slightly ambitious goals received one point while unambitious pledges got zero.
- Based on this blended system, the EU-27 and the U.K top the list for 2030. If a new U.S. pledge only aligns with the trajectory of its 2025 target, it will be well behind its European peers. It could close the gap only with a goal at the upper bound of what it reportedly is considering (eg, 53% or so).
- China and India may could find themselves under pressure in coming days as their pledges can only be regarded as ambitious under the criteria they set for themselves.
- In separate previous research, BNEF found that the EU nations and the U.K. have implemented the strongest domestic decarbonization policies to make good on their international pledges. But they will require further domestic policies to meet their targets and achieve deep decarbonization.
- Others, notably Brazil, Australia and the U.S., face significant gaps between their climate ambitions and the level of domestic policies they have legislated and implemented.