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UN Warns 2021 is a ‘Make or Break’ Year for Climate Emergency

Nations are “nowhere close” to the level of action needed to fight global warming, a UN climate action report said on February 26, urging countries to adopt stronger and more ambitious plans to reach the Paris Agreement goals, and limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century. 

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Initial NDC Synthesis Report measures the progress of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, ahead of the 26th session of Conference of its Parties (COP26) this November in Glasgow. It found that even with increased efforts by some countries, the combined impact falls far short of what is needed. 

“Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on the report’s findings. 

He said 2021 is a “make or break year” to confront the global climate emergency.  

“The science is clear, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must cut global emission by 45 per cent by 2030, from 2010 levels”, he stressed. 

The Secretary-General called on major emitters to “step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions” targets for 2030 in their NDCs, highlighting that COVID-19 recovery plans offered the opportunity to “build back greener and cleaner”. 

“Decision makers must walk the talk. Long-term commitments must be matched by immediate actions to launch the decade of transformation that people and planet so desperately need”, Guterres urged. 

The UNFCCC report covered submissions from countries up to December 31 2020, showing that 75 Parties to the Framework Convention communicated a new or updated NDC, representing approximately 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said that the report is a “snapshot, not a full picture” of the NDCs as COVID-19 posed significant challenges for many nations to complete their submissions in 2020.  

She added that a second report will be released prior to COP26, and called on all countries, especially major emitters that have not yet done so, to make their submissions as soon as possible, so that their information can be included in the updated report. 

“We congratulate parties that rose to the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, honoured their commitments under the Paris Agreement and submitted their NDCs by the deadline … but it’s time for all remaining parties to step up, fulfil what they promised to do and submit their NDCs as soon as possible”, Espinosa said. “If this task was urgent before, it’s crucial now.” 

Read more at the United Nations

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