COP21: pledges on GHGs are welcome, but are they enough?

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Many of the countries gathered in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21 – taking place between 30 November and 11 December 2015) have submitted individual pledges to curb emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs), which taken all together could contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions, but would still fall short of what is believed to be needed to contain global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

When implemented, the pledges – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), in UN jargon – could reduce global cumulative CO2 emissions by 54% by 2025 and by 75% by 2030 of the total global cumulative emissions. Nevertheless, implementation would still leave global emissions higher by 9 gigatonnes in 2025 and 15 gigatonnes in 2030 than required in the so-called least-cost 2⁰C scenario. (For the report on the effect of the INDCs, click here.)

Data released ahead of COP21 is said to have shown that October 2015 was the warmest month ever observed and that seven of the warmest months ever occurred in 2015. The numbers also indicated that half of the ‘controllable’ 2⁰C increase in global temperatures has already been realised.

Some scientists have argued that a focus on a 2⁰C cap is misleading in that such a target creates the impression that this is an attainable goal and that at this level, the effects of global warming could be contained. Whoever is right, it would appear there is a need for action now, going beyond the GHG reductions pledged so far.

For a chart on greenhouse gas emissions in a Investors’ corner post related to COP21, written by Nieck Ammerlaan, click here.

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Nieck Ammerlaan

Senior web content editor & investment content writer

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