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UN: Countries need to be more ambitious in climate goals

Only just over half of countries that are party to the accord have submitted updated proposals for limiting their carbon emissions, Patricia Espinosa said in a statement.

Countries that have signed up to the Paris accord to tame climate change need to be more ambitious in their own national efforts, the UN’s climate chief said on Saturday.

Only just over half of countries that are party to the accord have submitted updated proposals for limiting their carbon emissions, Patricia Espinosa said in a statement.

And “the level of ambition reflected in those national climate action plans also needs to be enhanced,” she said.

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 countries in December 2015 with the aim of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5C, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Under the accord, every participating country originally had until the end of 2020 to submit new or updated “nationally determined contributions” or “NDCs”.

But because of the global coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow to November 2021, a number of governments said they would be unable to meet the deadline.

By the new cut-off date on Friday, “the secretariat (had) received new or updated NDCs from 110 parties,” Espinosa said, including the United States, which came back into the Paris Agreement after former president Donald Trump pulled out.

“This compares favourably with new or updated NDCs from 75 parties received up to the end of December 2020… but it is still far from satisfactory since only a little over half the Parties (54 per cent) have met the cut-off deadline.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that by the end of this decade, emissions must have been reduced by at least 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels.

“Recent extreme heatwaves, droughts and floods across the globe are a dire warning that much more needs to be done, and much more quickly, to change our current pathway. This can only be achieved through more ambitious NDCs,” Espinosa said.

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