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COP26: The climate commitments of the main greenhouse gas emitting countries

COP26: The climate commitments of the main greenhouse gas emitting countries

COP26: The climate commitments of the main greenhouse gas emitting countries

In 2015, in Paris, almost 200 countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six years after the Paris Agreement, the UN denounces that the promises are not up to the climate urgency, especially among the main emitters.

The goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep warming “well below” 2ºC, by 1.5ºC if possible, relative to the pre-industrial era, a threshold that has become the main objective.

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But the first series of “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDC) from the signatories was pushing the planet toward a 3-4 degree rise.

Since then there has been some progress, but the latest UN evaluation taking into account the commitments adopted by countries points to a “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 ° C.

At best, it would reach +2.2 ° C, accepting the often “vague” promises of carbon neutrality in the middle of the century.


With three days to go before the start of the COP26, China announced its new “Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)” on Thursday.

Beijing is committed to reaching its peak emissions “by 2030” and achieving carbon neutrality “by 2060”. It also plans to reduce carbon intensity (CO2 emissions in relation to GDP) by more than 65% compared to 2005.

In 2016, it pledged to reduce carbon intensity by 60-65% by 2030 and to reach its peak emissions “around 2030”.

China generates a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And it is poised to increase its carbon production by 6% to cope with electricity shortages.


The second largest emitter in the world, the United States undertook under the presidency of Barack Obama to reduce its emissions in 2025 between 26-28% compared to its 2005 levels.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal, which returned with Joe Biden in early 2021 and beefed up its targets for a 50-52% drop by 2030.

This objective allows not to exceed +2 ºC, but it is insufficient to reach +1.5 ºC, according to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) group, which considers that Washington does not fulfill its part worldwide.

European Union

The European Union (EU) pledged in 2015 to reduce its CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 and, last December, raised it to “at least 55%”. This objective is in line with +2 ºC, according to the CAT.

The United Kingdom, already outside the EU, increased its ambition with a new threshold of reducing emissions by “at least 68%” in 2030 compared to 1990. According to the CAT, this objective is compatible with a world at +1.5 ºC.


Like China, India’s initial commitment is based on a reduction in carbon intensity of 33-35% by 2030 from the 2005 level.

Since then, India has not submitted a new NDC or indicated what its plans were.


Russia, which did not formally join the Paris Agreement until 2019, submitted its first NDC in late 2020.

In it he recovers his old commitments to bring its emissions in 2030 to 70% of the level of 1990, that is, a decrease of 30%. For CAT, it is very insufficient.

President Vladimir Putin later vowed to step up his fight against warming and evoked a carbon neutrality target for 2060.


Japan committed in 2016 to reduce its emissions by 26% by 2030 compared to the situation in 2013. Its new contribution in March 2020 did not change this figure.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who came to power later, reinforced his commitments. The new October 2021 NDC raises the target to a 46% drop by 2030, in line with a planet at +2 ° C, according to CAT.

And the rest of the G20?

Among the rest of the great countries issuers, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia presented commitments revised, but without reinforcing its objective, according to experts.

In fact, the new NDCs from Mexico and Brazil would lead to increased emissions, according to a recent UN report.

By contrast, Argentina, South Africa and Canada set more ambitious goals.

Saudi Arabia introduced its new NDC on October 23, ensuring that it doubles its commitments, but it has not yet been evaluated by experts.

Turkey has just announced its ratification of the Paris Agreement, paving the way for the presentation of its first NDC.

The G20, whose leaders meet this weekend in Rome, is responsible for three-quarters of global emissions, so the action of this group is essential to avoid a warming below +1.5 ºC.

Carbon neutrality

The Paris Agreement also evokes the objective of “balance” between greenhouse gas emissions and absorption “throughout the second half of the century”.

Under pressure from the UN, more and more countries commit to this carbon neutrality, most by 2050, while others by 2045 or 2060.

Excluding empty promises, 49 countries, which represent 57% of global emissions (including the European Union and the United States), formally committed to this, according to the latest report from the United Nations Environment Program.

In any case, whether to achieve carbon neutrality or hope to limit warming to +1.5 ° C, coherent and credible plans are needed in the short term to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, insists the UN.


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