Strengthen the implementation of energy NDCs to limit global warming

With increasing demand for energy due to population growth and economic growth comes concern about the impact on global warming. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep global warming “well below” 2°C, and preferably below 1.5°C by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. Thus, countries have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). A positive trend towards a reduction in global temperature below 1.5°C by 2100 is visible, but it is still far from reaching it.

The electricity sector is the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), contributing around 32% of global greenhouse gases. The main sources of electricity generation, according to the IEA, are coal, which produces about 74% of CO2 emissions, gas (21%) and oil (5%). The World Resources Institute’s State of Climate Action 2021 reports that global carbon emissions from electricity generation have risen from 643 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour (gCO2/kWh) in 1990 to 525 gCO2/kWh in 2018 The European Union (EU) had achieved a 40% reduction in carbon emissions from 1990 to 2017. China is reducing its carbon emissions while maintaining its high economic growth rate. However, the report says global carbon emissions would need to be reduced to 50-125 gCO2/kWh by 2030 and zero by 2050 if we are to meet the 2°C target by the end of the 21st century. century.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), 2020 observes a “gap” in government actions to improve their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets since the Paris Agreement in 2015. It indicates that 127 countries, announced in November 2020, are responsible for approximately 63% of emissions committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Major emitters such as the EU, China and the United States have submitted their net zero emissions targets. But their current climate change mitigation policies have failed to achieve the ideal goal of net zero emissions, instead they have produced a 0.8°C warmer temperature. To achieve their net zero targets, therefore, this suggests the need to strengthen their NDC targets for the 2030 targets and close the remaining emissions gap to 1.5°C. Nonetheless, they appreciate India’s actions to reduce its carbon emissions, which is in line with the global objective of 2°C.

The global energy goals are sufficient to bring the global temperature below 1.5°C. Efforts by countries have helped bring down the global temperature. According to the CAT, 2020 real-world action results from the 2020 estimate of 2.9°C global warming by 2100 showing a drop of 0.7°C from the 2015 estimate of 3 .6°C. This drop is the result of a combination of past efforts, including implementing the NDC, increasing renewable energy consumption, reducing coal consumption as well as a temporary economic downturn due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, real-world action is still far from meeting the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

A recent example of progressive government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic has been their reaffirmed commitment to renewable energy. In 2020, IEA data indicates a significant contribution of around 29% to global electricity generation from renewable sources, including hydro, geothermal, solar, wind, tidal, biofuels and municipal renewable energies. However, its share is expected to reach 55% by 2030 and 98-100% by 2050. Thus, the focus on strengthening the implementation of their emission control strategies for the 2030 targets should be aligned with long-term goals for 2050 goals.

(Mehdi Hussain, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Kirori Mal College and PhD Researcher, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Teresa H. Sadler