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China, India miss UN deadline to update emissions targets

July 31, 2021

China and India, among the world's worst offenders for emissions, have failed to submit updated target proposals to curb the release of carbon dioxide.

A coal-fired power plant in the United States
The US, as a top three emission offender, submitted new targets in AprilImage: J. David Ake/AP/picture alliance

The United Nations head of climate change, Patricia Espinosa, says a little over half of all countries which signed the Paris accord have submitted updated proposals to curb emissions.

The deadline for submissions passed on July 30. China and India who rank first and third respectively as the world's worst emitters of greenhouse gases have remained silent.

A climate change demonstration in Washington DC
The UN has called on countries to submit updated emissions proposals, in line with the Paris accordImage: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS

The United States which is the second biggest culprit submitted its revised target in April.

In a statement, Espinosa said "I call on those countries that were unable to meet this deadline to redouble their efforts and honour their commitment under the agreement."

What is the Paris accord?

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 countries at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2015. The aim is to bring global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Each signatory of the accord was given until the end of 2020 to submit their own determined targets, known as Nationally Determined Targets (NDTs). The pandemic meant that the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow was postponed to November this year.

Smaller countries have made ambitious pledges

It would appear some of the worlds smaller countries are taking the Paris agreement seriously. Fifteen countries with what can be considered relatively low rates of carbon emissions submitted pledges this week. The group which includes Sri Lanka, Israel, Malawi, Barbados, Malaysia, Nigeria and Namibia, set themselves ambitious targets, raising the temperature on the world's biggest emitters before Glasgow 2021.

While Espinosa welcomed the commitments made by 110 countries, she said it was "far from satisfactory" that only 58% had submitted targets on time.

The amount of natural disasters appears to be have created a sense of urgency from the climate chief, with Espinosa saying,"recent extreme heat waves, droughts and floods across the globe are a dire warning that much more needs to be done, and much more quickly, to change our current pathway. This can only be achieved through more ambitious NDCs."

Countries that miss the deadline can still submit pledges before the summit in November.

kb/jlw (AP, AFP, Reuters)