Ratification of the Paris Agreement by the United Kingdom, and release of long-term “decarbonisation” plans for 2050 by the United States and Germany brought some cheer at the climate change conference in Marrakesh which, Thursday, continued to struggle to make progress on a couple of familiar contentious issues, including finance.
Major emerging economies India, China, Brazil and South Africa, which together go under the name of BASIC group, continued to put pressure on the developed nations for fulfilling their emission reduction commitments in the pre-2020 period and deliver their obligations on providing climate finance to the poor and vulnerable countries.
The UK became the 111th country to ratify the Paris Agreement. The excitement around UK ratification was mainly because it was one of the last major economies not to have already done so. A more substantial movement came in the form of a new initiative bringing together countries, cities and businesses to commit themselves to long-term targets for reducing their carbon footprint. More than 20 countries, including the US and Germany, both of which released their 2050 plans earlier in the day, promised to finalise such targets for themselves.
Germany said it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95 per cent by the year 2050 compared to 1990 levels, while the United States promised to cut its emissions by about 80 per cent on 2005 levels. Canada and Mexico also announced similar strategies.
Last year, almost every country had presented its climate action plan in which they had indicated similar low-carbon pathways for themselves. But the timeline targeted in those pathways were much shorter, up to 2025 or 2030. India, for example, committed itself to some targets till the year 2030.
Setting of long-term goals, it is hoped, would put the countries on more clearer low-carbon pathways. “The important thing is that we not only have the governments involved in this initiative but also cities, businesses and regions. A lot of these plans that were made in the run-up to the Paris climate conference last year were done on an individual basis, without knowing what others are doing. We are trying to forge partnerships here,” said Laurence Tubiana, France’s special representative for the Paris climate conference.
But negotiators were still working on a political statement calling for “urgent action” that was to be adopted on Tuesday but has been deferred because of differences in its content.