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Chart: Current climate pledges fall far short of Paris goals — and a livable future

We’re now on track for catastrophic warming, but with enough ambition and grit, we could still keep global temperature rise in check.

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We need more ambitious climate commitments from the world’s nations if we’re to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists say is necessary to prevent serious climate chaos. Current pledges from countries wouldn’t even keep us below 2° C, the baseline aim of the Paris Agreement. The goal of the COP26 climate summit, taking place from October 31 to November 12, is securing stronger commitments from nations.

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If countries continue with their current policies — see the red area of the chart — we will be on track for a roughly 3°C increase in global average temperature by the end of the century, according to data and analysis from Carbon Action Tracker. If countries live up to their climate action pledges made as of May 2021 — see the yellow — we will still be in for more than 2°C of global warming. 

To keep below 1.5° C — the green path — nations would need to make much faster and steeper reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions. (Emissions in this chart are measured in annual gigatons of CO2 equivalent, or GtCO2e.)

Getting on the green pathway is achievable. A fast transition to a clean energy economy can bend the warming curve dramatically downward. The International Energy Agency recently laid out a comprehensive roadmap showing how we can do it. 

What’s holding us up? It’s not a lack of technology or know-how. It’s a lack of resolve and leadership from heads of state and politicians. At COP26, they have a prime opportunity to put us on the green path. 

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.