The Paris Agreement Update 2020: Where Are We Now?

The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, brought together 196 countries in a global effort to limit the rise in global temperatures by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, countries have been working hard to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and meet the commitments they made under the agreement. As we approach the end of 2020, it’s worth taking a look at where we stand in relation to the Paris Agreement and what progress has been made.

One of the key events of 2020 was the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was originally scheduled to take place in Glasgow in November. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference has been postponed until 2021. However, there have been a number of important developments throughout the year that have contributed to progress in the fight against climate change.

In January, the European Union (EU) presented its European Green Deal, which sets out a plan to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. This includes investing in clean energy and sustainable transport, and implementing measures to protect biodiversity and reduce pollution. The EU has also increased its emissions reduction target to at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

In September, China made a surprise announcement that it aims to become carbon neutral by 2060. This is a significant step for China, which is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The announcement was made by President Xi Jinping at the United Nations General Assembly, and was welcomed by other world leaders. However, China has not yet revealed how it plans to achieve this goal.

Another important development was the launch of the Race to Zero campaign, which aims to get businesses, cities, regions, and investors to commit to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The campaign, which was launched in June, has already received commitments from more than 1,000 companies, 450 cities, and 23 regions.

Despite these positive developments, there is still a long way to go to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report 2020, countries need to increase their NDCs by at least three times to limit global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and by at least five times to limit it to 1.5°C. The report also highlights the urgent need for countries to take more ambitious action in the next decade to close the emissions gap.

In conclusion, the Paris Agreement remains a vital framework for global action on climate change. While progress has been made in 2020, there is much more that needs to be done. As we move into 2021 and towards COP26, it is essential that countries and businesses continue to work together to increase ambition and accelerate action towards a sustainable, low-carbon future.