N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
Seven years after the Paris Agreement, in which government leaders pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, they meet each other again in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.
The world is still not on track. New data toward lowering emissions released by Climate Action Tracker, an independent research group, ahead of the meeting in Egypt, reveals the gap. None of the world’s four biggest emitters - China, United States, European Union and India – have reduced their emissions enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Together these four account for more than half of historical emissions of planet-warming gases, including carbon dioxide and methane. The US is the largest historical emitter and China is the largest current emitter.
The policies of the big four have an outsize impact on the future of Earth’s climate. The outlook for how much the world is expected to warm has improved as policies are adopted to reduce emissions and renewable energy has grown. But it hasn’t been enough to steer the world toward the future envisioned by the Paris Agreement: to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and make a good-faith effort to stay at 1,5 degrees.
The packages of the four biggest emitters reveal progress toward lowering emissions. But it is still not enough!