06 November 2017

Two thirds of major emitting countries not on track to reach their climate targets

A new study concludes that 16 out of 25 analysed countries and regions are not on track to achieve the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) targets they have set for themselves on greenhouse gas emissions. 

© NicoElNino | Shutterstock

© NicoElNino | Shutterstock

In the Paris climate agreement, which went into effect on 4 November, countries promised to implement policies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. A new study by NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) provides an overview of projected greenhouse gas emissions in 25 major emitting countries up to 2030, based on currently implemented climate policies and the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The study concludes that 16 out of the 25 countries and regions analysed are not on track to achieve the NDC targets they have set for themselves. This study updates the 2016 report produced by IIASA.

Not all countries on track to achieve targets set in NDCs

Of the 25 countries studied here, 9 are roughly on track to achieve their self-determined unconditional 2025 and/or 2030 targets with currently implemented policies. These include Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Turkey, and the Ukraine.

The other 16 would require additional measures to achieve their 2025/2030 targets. These include: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the EU, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, and the USA. 

Progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions also varies

Currently implemented policies are projected to influence greenhouse gas emissions, but do not prevent emissions from increasing up to 2030 (above 2010 levels). This is the case not only in developing countries such as Argentina, China, DRC, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Thailand but also in OECD countries (Australia, Chile, Mexico, Republic of Korea, and Turkey) up to 2030, compared to 2010 levels.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the remaining seven countries are projected to remain stable, approximately at current levels, or to decrease further, under current policies.

It should be noted that a country likely to meet its targets not necessarily is undertaking more stringent action on mitigation than a country that is not on track, as this depends on the ambition level of the nationally determined target, and because countries have different policy-making approaches.

Still more effort needed to stay well below 2 °C

However, even if all the countries meet their targets, the combined mitigation impact would fall far short of what is required to limit global warming to well below 2 °C and possibly 1.5 °C — the climate targets set in the Paris Agreement. Previous studies have shown that, even with full implementation of all the plans countries submitted in this agreement, global temperature would rise by 2.6 °C to 3.1 °C, by the end of the century.

In order to limit global warming to 'well below' 2 °C, more stringent climate policies will be necessary.  

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Last edited: 10 July 2018


Nicklas Forsell

Senior Research Scholar Integrated Biosphere Futures Research Group - Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program


Greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios for major emitting countries


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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