Analysis: New COP26 pledges could limit warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius

Analysis: New COP26 pledges could limit warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius
© AP-Scott Heppell

An analysis released Thursday shows that new pledges announced at the COP26 climate conference could keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius — in line with a key Paris agreement goal — if they're actually implemented. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that, based on the new pledges, countries could limit the Earth’s warming to 1.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the year 2100.

This is down from projections from before the conference that warming would reach 2.1 degrees Celsius in the same period. The change is a result of new global pledges aimed at reducing emissions, and some countries — including India — announcing new climate targets.

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But the agency notes that countries’ policies haven’t necessarily been in line with their rhetoric in the past. It said that based on the policies countries have actually announced, the world will have warmed by 2.6 degrees at the end of the century. 

The IEA is an influential agency that launched in the 1970s to help coordinate a response to oil supply disruptions. It now also focuses on various types of energy and often puts out climate analyses. 

This 2.6 degree figure is well above the Paris agreement goal of limiting warming to below 2 degrees to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The IEA said on its website that it is “essential” for countries to actually put policies in place that live up to their pledges. 

The IEA is an influential agency that launched in the 1970s to help coordinate a response to oil supply disruptions. It now also focuses on various types of energy and often puts out climate analyses. 

"What is essential is for governments to turn their pledges into clear and credible policy actions and strategies today. Ambitions count for little if they are not implemented successfully,” it said. 

It also noted that although new pledges are “welcome,” even if they were implemented, the world would still not be on track to meet the Paris Agreement's further goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.