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More countries hike climate pledges, piling pressure on major emitters

07/31/2021 | 07:59am EDT
FILE PHOTO: Birds and a plane are seen flying above emission from the chimneys of a chemical plant located near Port Botany in Sydney

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of mostly smaller countries submitted new, more ambitious climate pledges to the United Nations this week, raising pressure on big emitters including China to do the same ahead of a major U.N. climate summit in November.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said that as of Saturday the United Nations had received new pledges from 110 countries, out of the nearly 200 that signed the 2015 Paris climate accord.

"It is still far from satisfactory, since only a little over half the parties (58%) have met the cut-off deadline," Espinosa said in a statement, urging laggards to "redouble their efforts" and make more ambitious commitments to protect the planet.

A total of 15 countries - most of them small and with relatively low CO2 emissions - submitted new pledges this week, ahead of a July 30 deadline for them to be counted in a U.N. report.

They included Sri Lanka, Israel, Malawi and Barbados. Malaysia, Nigeria and Namibia were among the larger countries to submit tougher climate targets this week.

With deadly heatwaves, flooding and wildfires occurring around the world, calls are growing for urgent action to cut the CO2 emissions heating the planet.

But the United Nations' latest analysis of countries' climate pledges said that taken together, they would still lead to global warming far beyond the 1.5 degree limit that would avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

"I truly hope that the revised estimate of collective efforts will reveal a more positive picture," Espinosa said.

China - the world's biggest emitter of CO2 - and countries including India and South Korea have not yet submitted new climate pledges. They are facing considerable international pressure to do so ahead of the U.N. climate summit.

The United States and European Union, the world's second and third biggest emitters, hiked their targets in recent months, promising to slash emissions faster this decade.

Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, an island country near the Equator in the Pacific Ocean which is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels, urged rich nations who have not yet hiked their pledges to step up.

"If these major economies submit 1.5C-aligned NDCs, it would make a world of difference," she said. A country's climate pledge is known as a "nationally determined contribution".

Countries that miss the deadline for inclusion in the U.N. report can still submit new pledges before the summit in November, by which time every country is expected to submit a new pledge.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

By Kate Abnett

ę Reuters 2021
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