Draft Deal at COP26 Calls for Higher Targets
The first draft deal of COP26 emerged Wednesday and "notes with serious concern" that existing carbon-cutting climate targets set by countries are insufficient. The UK, hosts of the Glasgow conference and holders of the COP presidency, published the draft document that will now be negotiated by the nearly 200 countries in attendance.
This initial draft calls on countries to "revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022." It also calls for a complete phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies for the first time.
Why This Matters
In order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, keeping global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius is imperative. But the world is set to blow well past that target. Scientists say cutting emissions by 45% before the end of the decade is necessary to hit the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degree target -- and keeping warming within that temperature range is one of the main goals of this COP. Promises without the hard work of action by governments and polluting industries won't create change.
Worst Carbon Polluters Since 1990
Not all countries are equally responsible for the current climate crisis. Many climate targets are set in reference to 1990 levels of carbon emissions; starting 30 years ago, top emitters include:
- The UK ranks #10 on the list, responsible for putting about 650 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling on COP delegates to "get on and do it" as the talks wrap up. But according to Climate Action Tracker, there is "a large gap between the UK's ambitions and its present level of action."
- Indonesia comes in #5 on the list with around 1.5 billion tons of CO2. It's the fourth-largest coal producer in the world and the biggest regional gas supplier, but deforestation and fires in its peat lands drive emissions more than fossil fuels.
- The United States is #2 with nearly 7 billion tons of CO2 since 1990. The average American emits 15 tons of carbon a year, more than double the average Chinese citizen, Newsweek notes.
But averages can be deceptive. Globally, the wealthiest 10% of people in the world were responsible for half of global emissions in 2015, according to the Stockholm Environment Institute and Oxfam. And while the US accounts for less than 12% of global emissions and has pledged to cut emissions by 50% by 2030, China still hasn't hit peak emissions and is building new generations of super-polluting coal power plants.
Carbon Brief: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change?, October 4, 2021.