Source: Climate Action Tracker

The new IPCC report on climate science has reinforced the absolute urgency of closing the 2030 emissions gap if there is to be any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. While people are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change around the globe, and the IPCC has yet again clearly demonstrated the feasibility and urgency of climate change mitigation, action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continues to lag behind what is needed – in practically all countries and sectors. International climate finance to support action in developing countries is falling short. Even countries with strong targets are mostly not on track to meet them, while more have failed to bring forward stronger commitments for 2030.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) updates submitted so far in 2020–2021 have narrowed the gap to what is needed for 1.5°C only by up to around 4 GtCO2e, or up to 15%. Of particular concern are governments - Australia, Brazil, Indonesia Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Viet Nam - that have failed to lift ambition at all – they have submitted the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than they had put forward in 2015. These countries need to rethink their choice. There are still over 70 countries that have yet to submit an updated target.

The new comprehensive CAT rating system reveals a few lone frontrunners, but most government targets and actions remain highly or critically insufficient. For domestic action, only one developed country has a domestic target that is rated under the CAT’s new rating system as “1.5°C compatible” (UK), and some are close (EU, Germany, Norway). Domestic targets are, however, only one dimension of the actions needed for Paris compatibility. None of these governments have put forward sufficient international climate finance - which is absolutely essential for ambitious action in those developing countries needing support to reduce emissions - nor do they have sufficient policies in place. As a consequence, the EU, Germany and Norway are rated as “Insufficient” in the new overall CAT rating, whilst the UK is slightly better rated as “Almost sufficient”. Only one country – a developing country – The Gambia scored an overall 1.5 degree compatibility in the new CAT rating system launched with this update.

Almost all developed countries need to further strengthen their targets to reduce emissions as fast as possible, to implement national policies to meet them, and to support more developing countries to make the transition. Developing countries also need to update their targets and policies, but also show a pathway for how they could also reduce their emissions as fast as possible if they were supported financially - and to clearly indicate the support they need.

Critically Insufficient

  • Iran
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

Highly Insufficient

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • South Korea
  • UAE
  • Ukraine
  • Vietnam


  • Chile
  • EU
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • USA

Almost Sufficient

  • Costa Rica
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • UK

1.5° C Paris Agreement Compatible

  • The Gambia

Positive developments need to urgently be scaled up: some countries have significantly updated their targets and implemented new policies (USA, EU, Germany). Such positive movements need to urgently be followed by all other countries. Governments need to take advantage of the drop in renewable energy and storage costs and ramp up their installation. They must cancel their coal construction plans, and drop plans and funding for gas pipelines and new terminals.

2030 targets are the ones that counts: The most important target date is 2030, by which time global emissions must be cut by 50%, and governments are nowhere near this. We estimate that with current actions global emissions will be at roughly today’s level in 2030, we would be emitting twice as much as required for the 1.5°C limit.

Net zero targets

The wave of national mid-century net zero targets give reasons for hope, but will fail without sufficient 2030 reductions. There needs to be alignment between 2030 targets and net zero goals for the latter to be believable. CAT assessment shows that most net zero targets are formulated vaguely and do not yet conform with good practice. Robust short-term targets and pathways towards achieving them are required to fully realise their ambition. If fully implemented, the net zero targets on the table, in combination with the 2030 goals on the table so far, could reduce global temperature increase to around 2.0°C in the CAT optimistic case, based on our briefing from May 2021.


Under the Paris agreement, countries submitted their pledges to cut emissions, also known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs. All signatories were supposed to update their NDCs by July 31 this year under the Paris accord. There are still more than 70 countries that have yet to submit an update.

  1. India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are among countries that missed the July 31 deadline. China, the world's biggest polluter, announced a new target, but hasn't formally submitted it to the UN.
  2. And many countries submitted an "update" without actually increasing their pledge. Brazil and Mexico submitted the same targets as they did in 2015. Changes to those countries' baseline assumptions make their pledges weaker than they were before. Russia submitted an update that looks stronger on paper, but doesn't amount to meaningful change.
  3. Of particular concern are Australia, Brazil, Indonesia Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam: they have failed to lift ambition at all, submitting the same or even less ambitious 2030 targets than those they put forward in 2015.
  4. The continued use of coal remains a significant policy problem, with China and India retaining huge coal pipelines. Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea are also planning to go ahead with coal use in the future.
  5. Many countries' attempt to wean of coal, which is generally the fossil fuels that causes the most emissions, many countries are looking to use more natural gas, which is being falsely sold as a "bridging fuel."
  6. The Australian government, which has said it will keep mining coal past 2030, is also investing money into new gas exploration and infrastructure, and is of particular concern.
  7. Thailand has plans to ramp up new gas as it phases out coal, while the EU is still planning to commit public funding to new gas infrastructure, and various member states are lobbying hard for the continued use of this fossil fuel.
  8. Gas is a fossil fuel, and any investment into gas today risks becoming a stranded asset. And while interest in green hydrogen has grown exponentially, there is still a large number of hydrogen projects in the pipeline where it's produced from gas. Hydrogen produced from gas still produces carbon, and is inconsistent with reaching net zero."

Net zero by 2050

Cutting emissions is a non-negotiable part of the Paris Accord. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap solar radiation in the atmosphere, just like glass traps heat in a greenhouse. This causes temperatures to rise and drives more extreme weather, ice melt, sea level rise and ocean acidification. To keep the warming under 1.5 degrees, the world needs to reach net zero by 2050, a landmark UN climate science report published in August showed. Net zero refers to a state when the amount of greenhouse gas emitted is no greater than the amount removed from the atmosphere.

According to UN Climate Change, just over 130 countries have pledged to cut emissions to net-zero so far. The new analysis by CAT found that even if all of them followed up on their plans, warming would still reach 2 degrees. If they stick with the policies they have in place, temperatures will likely be 2.4 degrees higher by the end of century. Temperatures are already around 1.2 degrees higher than they were before humans started burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, so room for error is very limited. An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed. While many governments have committed to net zero, without a real action soon, achieving net zero will be virtually impossible.



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