Scores of countries signal more ambitious climate plans in 2020

The UK has welcomed news that more than 100 countries are set to boost their plans for climate action this year.

Data gathered by the United Nations’ climate body shows 114 countries have produced a more ambitious set of plans for cutting emissions or have signalled their intention to do so this year ahead of key climate talks in the UK.

It represents a doubling of countries committed to increasing efforts on cutting emissions to meet their pledges under the international Paris Agreement to curb global warming, since a UN action summit in September.

In addition, 120 nations have told the UN they have signed off on plans to get to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or are working towards that target.

The figures have been released at the start of a year when countries are expected to boost their “nationally determined contributions” to the Paris Agreement ahead of “COP26” climate talks in November in Glasgow.

The Paris Agreement, which comes into force this year, commits countries to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming at “well below” 2C and pursue efforts to prevent temperatures rising more than 1.5C. above pre-industrial levels.

But on current pledges of national action the world is on course for around 3C of warming by 2100.

The UN’s climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published a report in 2018 which warned of the damaging impacts of temperatures rising above 1.5C.

And it warned that the world would need to cut carbon emissions to “net zero” – so no more is being put into the atmosphere than is being removed
by measures such as planting trees – by 2050 to limit warming to 1.5C.

Claire O’Neill, former clean growth minister who will be president of the COP26 climate talks, said: “I’m pleased to see that 114 countries have now committed to lowering emissions by rethinking their nationally determined contributions in this crucial climate year of 2020.

“This is an increase of more than 60% since September.

“We will now urge countries to develop ambitious plans to deliver these commitments ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

“It’s also encouraging to see the number of countries following the UK’s lead, and pledging to develop a net zero plan has doubled from 60 to 121.”

Ms O’Neill added “2020 presents a golden opportunity for countries to show their commitment to achieving net zero by 2050. It’s vital the world comes together if we are to stand a chance of limiting warming to 1.5C”.

The UK has signed up to a legally-binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, but the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change has warned it urgently needs to increase action to meet the target.

Developing countries have led the way with signalling they will submit new climate plans in 2020, along with European countries including the UK, France and Germany and nations such as Argentina and Mexico.

Pressure will be on countries such as India, China and Japan to release new targets for cutting emissions.