Current climate policies not enough to meet Paris targets: Lancet Study
New Delhi: Attempts to pursue “green growth” in high-income countries will not deliver the emission reductions required to meet the climate targets and fairness principles of the Paris Agreement, according to a study.
The study, published recently in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, shows that if current trends continue, even the 11 high-income countries that have “decoupled” carbon emissions from gross domestic product (GDP) growth would on average take over 200 years to get their emissions close to zero.
These countries would emit more than 27-times their fair share of the “global carbon budget” that must not be exceeded if we are to avert catastrophic warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, as required by the Paris Agreement.
The researchers argue that the pursuit of economic growth in high-income countries is at odds with internationally agreed climate targets, and call for transformative “post-growth” climate policy centred around sufficiency, fairness, and wellbeing.
The study compared carbon emission reductions in these countries with the reductions required under the Paris Agreement.
“There is nothing green about economic growth in high-income countries,” said lead author of the study, Jefim Vogel, from the University of Leeds, UK.
“It is a recipe for climate breakdown and further climate injustice. Calling such highly insufficient emission reductions ‘green growth’ is misleading, it is essentially greenwashing,” Vigel said.
Continued economic growth in high-income countries is at odds with the twin goal of averting catastrophic climate breakdown and upholding fairness principles that protect development prospects in lower-income countries, the researchers said.
The study identified 11 high-income countries that achieved “absolute decoupling” — decreasing CO2 emissions alongside increasing GDP — between 2013 and 2019, which were Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.
For each country, it compares business-as-usual’ future emission reduction rates to the “Paris-compliant” rates needed to comply with the country’s “fair-share” or population-proportionate share of the respective global carbon budget that must not be exceeded if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or even just to 1.7 degrees Celsius.
The researchers found that none of the high-income countries who have “decoupled” emissions from growth have achieved emission reductions anywhere near fast enough to be Paris-compliant.
At current rates, these countries would on average take over 200 years to get their emissions close to zero, and would emit more than 27 times their fair share of the global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees Celsius, they said.
The scale of the gap between achieved and Paris-compliant emission reductions is dramatic. Among the 11 high-income countries examined, emission reductions between 2013 and 2019 were on average just 1.6 per cent per year, the researchers said.
By contrast, reduction rates of 30 per cent per year are needed by 2025 for countries to comply with their fair-shares of the global carbon budget for 1.5 degrees Ceslius, they added.