As a small island developing state, St. Lucia is disproportionately vulnerable to external economic shocks and extreme climate-related events that can instantly wipe out decades of its development gains. A new report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) states that many countries have increased their commitments to the Paris Agreement by “reducing or limiting emissions by 2025 or 2030” but have called for increased commitments to mitigate. Photo credit: Desmond Brown / IPS
UNITED NATIONS, February 26th (IPS) – The UNFCCC released its Climate Action: NDC Scorecard on February 26th. The report assesses the progress made by the countries in achieving their climate protection, adaptation and financing goals.
The projected reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are “well below what is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement”.
This emerges from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which today, February 26th, published its Scorecard for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
NDCs are the plans each nation outlines to strengthen resilience to climate change in areas such as damage control, adaptation, and climate finance. These plans are vital to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, especially the urgent goal of keeping global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The NDCs considered in the report make up 40 percent of the signatories to the Paris Agreement and cause around 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.
“In order to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, carbon dioxide emissions must fall by around 25 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 and reach net zero by 2070,” says the report. ”
The first NDCs were submitted in 2015 and need to be updated every 5 years, with the goals for combating climate change becoming ever more ambitious.
The report says that many countries have stepped up their commitments to “reduce or limit emissions by 2025 or 2030” but have called for increased commitments to mitigate.
“Far-reaching reductions are also required for non-carbon dioxide emissions,” it continues. The projections highlight “that the parties need to further strengthen their containment commitments under the Paris Agreement”.
The reporting countries registered mitigation measures in industry, agriculture and waste as priorities for achieving their goals. Energy is another pillar of containment as renewable energy generation is seen as one of the most important initiatives to provide clean energy to the population. Clean energy and a transition to more efficient modes of transport were hallmarks of several NDCs.
One noted difference between the old and the new commitments is the focus on adaptation. The national adaptation plans, which complement the Sustainable Development Goals, are increasingly taken into account. Food security, disaster risk management, coastal protection and poverty reduction are listed as priority areas for adaptation.
The report also says that some of the countries that have submitted renewed NDCs are aligning their commitments with broader national policy agendas based on a transition to sustainable, low-carbon economies. St. Lucia in the Caribbean does just that.
St. Lucia submitted its first NDCs in 2015 and renewed approvals in January 2021. This country’s commitments are preceded by a reminder that as a small island developing state, it is disproportionately vulnerable to external economic shocks and extreme climate-related events that can be remedied immediately, gaining decades of development.
Annette Rattigan-Leo, St. Lucia’s Chief Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer, told IPS that the country’s renewed commitments are aimed at mitigation.
“St. Lucia’s efforts remain in the energy sector, as this sector turns out to be the highest greenhouse gas emitter, according to analysis. The aim, as expressed in the updated NDC, is to reduce emissions in the energy sector by 7 percent by 2030, ”she said.
St. Lucia’s previous commitment was to cut emissions by 2 percent by 2030. Leo said the updated NDC not only reflects increased ambitions, but the country takes pride in its focus on gender, children and adolescents. The Department of Gender Relations in St. Lucia is developing a national equality policy and strategic plan that includes environmental sustainability and climate change as priority areas. According to the report, countries are advocating gender integration to make their climate plans more effective.
The NDCs also looked at funding and implementation. For a world still battling COVID-19, the pandemic has been spearheaded by many countries, but it may be too early to assess its impact on NDCs. According to the report, the longer-term effects will depend on the length of the pandemic and recovery efforts.
St. Lucia is confident of reaching its NDCs despite the pandemic. According to Rattigan-Leo, with the right investments and partnerships, St. Lucia can leverage resources to sustainably support and achieve its goals.
“Economic recovery efforts around COVID-19 require strategic partnerships and investments that focus on resilience and green recovery. As such, NDC-related initiatives, in particular on renewable energies and energy efficiency, will be highlighted in the next 5 years. ”
The UNFCCC’s scorecard is a first report. It is based on information from 48 NDCs representing 75 members of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.
The final version is expected to be released before the Glasgow climate negotiations in November and will contain the most up-to-date information. Data and exposure to some of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, including India and the United States, are absent from this report. China, the top emitter, is not represented.
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