AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
In December 2015, leaders from 196 countries signed the 21her session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) the Paris Agreement, committing to take action to limit the increase in global average temperature to no more than +2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally by anticipating +1.5°C The deal has been seen as a milestone in climate diplomacy, boosting global cooperation to tackle it climate change and take collective action.
But where are we, more than 7 years after the signing of the agreement?
If “climate neutrality” commitments are implemented collectively, then we can hope to contain global warming. In other words, it is possible to limit the increase in global average temperature to a maximum of +2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Indeed, with the commitments already made publicly, the increase until 2100 is estimated to have stabilized at 1.7-1.8°C. A sufficient and necessary condition for this to happen is that the states’ commitments do not remain in words, but that their implementation takes place at very high speed. But, in most countries, these commitments are still “in the air”.
Here are some of the main messages from our news of Study at the National Technical University of Athens, in collaboration with researchers from the Spanish Basque Center on Climate Change (BC3), the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), the Norwegian Center for International Climate Research (CICERO ), British Imperial College London and the American Joint Institute for Global Change Research. In this study published a few days ago in Nature, 4 large integrated economy-energy-climate assessment models were used to assess the trajectory of CO emissions2 short-term and long-term, depending on national objectives and announced commitments.
Older Publication about 2 years ago he estimated that the increase would exceed them 2°C. This significant variation indicates the progress that has been made on global climate goals. Especially before and during the 26her The Glasgow conference at the end of 2021 (COP26) saw a significant increase in the ambition of national targets. 120 countries had renewed their short-term climate targets ahead of Glasgow, while the world’s largest economies accounting for 70% of carbon dioxide emissions have pledged to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next three to five decades.
Another new element of our recent study is the need to separate the commitments from the actual policy measures that are or will be implemented in practice, in order to make the commitments a reality. The effort to date has been to increase the ambition of the climate goals. What is needed now is not more promises, but the implementation of already existing commitments.
It is equally important to note that ambitious commitments to climate neutrality are not enough if they are not implemented early in this critical decade. Several countries have pledged to achieve very ambitious long-term zero carbon goals, but scale back their efforts after 2030. This is the wrong approach. The battle to contain average temperatures will largely be played out in the years to come until 2030. Short-term objectives are paramount. Otherwise, a temperature increase of more than +2°C in the next ten years will not be avoided. In this negative evolution, the political actions to reduce it will have to be rethought in a dystopian and absolutely uncertain environment.
The study also demonstrates significant technological and societal challenges.
The greatest technological challenge relates to the particularly dubious levels of diffusion of new technological marvels (eg green hydrogen, use of bioenergy with parallel carbon capture and storage), solutions that have not yet been used on a large scale. Since they remain uncertain of their timely availability for the foreseeable future, they should not be part of a “magic” solution in today’s design. On the contrary, the promotion of mature solutions, such as renewable energies and savings, as well as the corresponding investments in networks and storage, must take place at an unprecedented pace.
The greatest social challenge is how to fairly share the high costs of necessary technological investments, protecting the economically weak. The risk is that a large part of the population, around 20%, even in the strongest economies, is at risk of energy poverty, unable to follow the transition. Pathways to climate neutrality should therefore be not only climatic but also socially protective. In other words, inclusive journeys, so no one is left behind.
Otherwise, they will be difficult, full of risks of growing inequalities, new exclusions and social explosions.
*Haris Doukas, NTUA teacher
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