COP26 targets not enough, warn Paris Agreement creators

Paris Agreement creators Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana
Paris Agreement creators Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana

COP26 leaders must reconvene next year with improved plans to reach climate targets if we are to prevent disastrous levels of global warming, warn creators of the 2015 Paris Agreement, The Guardian reports.

Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and French diplomat Laurence Tubiana, who were both involved in crafting the Paris Agreement, have advised that a deadline next year is essential if we are to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C. Former French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who was also involved in Paris, added that targets next year must be even more ambitious. 

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With current plans, countries are expected to return to the negotiating table in 2025, but forcing countries to reconvene next year is allowed under legal provisions included in the Paris Agreement, said Figueres and Tubiana.

“If that [five years] is the first time that countries are called to increase their ambitions, honestly that’s going to be too late,” Figueres said.

“This is critically important. We need much more urgency, as this is the critical decade. We need to come back next year. We can’t wait five years for new NDCs.”

Current NDCs, or nation climate commitments, would lead to a warming of 2.4C, according to a report by Climate Action Tracker.

UN secretary-general António Guterres fronted the conference last week in support of further accountability for national targets.

“Let’s have no illusions: if commitments fall short by the end of this Cop, countries must revisit their national climate plans and policies. Not every five years. Every year,” Guterres said.

Since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016 to limit warming to “well below 2 degrees C”, climate scientists have warned that breaching 1.5 degrees C would have disastrous consequences.

Clearer scientific modelling means that the planned five yearly revisions are not enough, Tubiana said.

“We must base decisions on the science.”

“That’s why we have the ratchet mechanism in the Paris Agreement. We must agree to come back next year, as this gap [between NDCs and new scientific advice] is a really big problem,” he said.

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Figueres echoed this, commenting that “the Paris Agreement was deliberately written to continue to improve its provisions according to the best available science”.

The US has supported meeting to offer stronger commitments on a more frequent basis, but is hesitant about revising NDCs annually, considering the complexity of the reports.