Keeping climate action on track: Where are we now?

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Philippine EnviroNews, Katowice, Poland

In 2015, more than 195 countries agreed to adopt the landmark Paris Agreement which laid out the path to an ambitious future of a climate-resilient world. However, a mountainous of tasks must be hammered out in order to put the world into the right track.

At The 24th Conference of Parties (COP 24) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), world leaders need to unite around a strong set of implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement in order to facilitate, standardize and accelerate progress.

To push countries to scale-up ambition, the UNFCCC released today the report “Actions and Support Before 2020: Where are We?” which is a compilation and synthesis  based on the reporting that developed countries are obliged to undertake every two years to meet their 2020 targets. The report also features the financial, technology and capacity-building support provided to developing countries to adapt to climate change.

The report finds that emission reduction targets for 2020 are increasingly seen as a starting point for ambition under the Paris Agreement where more effort, policies and actions need to be stepped up.

Between 1990 and 2016, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of developed countries decreased by 13%, according to the report. It also highlights that since 2010, emissions by these countries have decreased by 4.4%, likely due in part to climate actions that more than offset the impact of economic and population growth.

Some countries are reporting actions and policies aimed at meeting 2030 targets and beyond, focusing on low or zero emission strategies by mid-century. For instance, the United Kingdom released a report in 2017 which sets out climate actions for future carbon budget and pathways in order to meet its goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.

Financial support by developed countries reached 49.4 billion US dollars in 2016. This financial support increased by 13 per cent between the 2013/2014 and the 2015/2016 reporting periods.

Additionally, technology transfer and capacity-building support is beginning to lay the foundation for developing countries’ climate action beyond 2020. Most of the technology transfer is aimed at climate mitigation, while adaptation activities are the main focus of capacity-building support in developing countries.

Yet the report also clearly establishes that some developed countries are ahead of their targets, while others are behind. The full implementation of available measures and policies would be a critically important step for those countries to make progress.