Climate change pledges ‘significant’

Pledges to tackle climate change made by countries ahead of crucial global talks are “surpassing expectations”, the UN’s climate chief has said.

But while national climate plans put forward by 155 countries, covering 88% of the world’s emissions, make a “significant dent” in temperature rises that could have soared 4C or 5C above pre-industrial levels, they do not yet “cut it”, Christiana Figueres said.

Even if all the plans to cut emissions are fully implemented, it would not put the world on track to keep global temperature rises to 2C, the threshold above which dangerous impacts of climate change are expected, and would instead see it facing rises closer to 3C.

Figueres said she is confident the UN talks are “building” the pathway to keeping temperature rises to 2C, with measures in a final deal to review, monitor, and improve over time on the actions already promised.

She insisted negotiators are “not giving up on a 2C world”, warning nobody wants to see temperatures rise by 3C.

Countries meet in Paris at the end of November in a bid to agree a new legally binding global deal.

Figueres said she expects Britain’s leadership to continue.

She said she is looking forward to hearing the government plans on issues such as coal, and pointed to its leadership in developing offshore wind.

“Yes, there is a need to restore investment confidence, but I don’t think the direction has changed. If anything, there’s a switching of measures, but the direction remains constant,” she said.

“I actually think they are surpassing expectations.

"I don’t think that we could have foreseen that we could have made a significant dent in the expected temperature rise and this is really a significant dent.”

But she said: “I’m truly in admiration of efforts that are on the table, but this is not going to cut it yet, it’s a very good start.

“Paris needs to send very clear, powerful signals to capital markets, to research and development, to the countries themselves, that this truly is the path that is being intentionally chosen and is going to be pursued.

“There’s a lot to be hopeful around and to harvest as achievements in Paris, but it’s not success yet.”


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