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The United Nations has urged countries around the world to submit their updated national climate action plans as soon as possible, reminding governments that their UN-sponsored Paris Agreement plans must be submitted "at least 9-12 months." before the crucial COP26 summit begins in Glasgow in November next year.
Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, nations were expected to communicate more ambitious climate adaptation and emission reduction plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in UN jargon, by the end of 2020.
However, a new communication from the UNFCCC climate secretariat, issued late last week, effectively confirms that the one-year delay to the Summit caused by the coronavirus pandemic means governments will have a little more time. to present your plans.
A letter issued last week asks governments to submit NDCs "at least 9-12 months in advance" to COP26, which would put the deadline for submissions closer to February 2021.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said the UN planned to publish an "initial version of the synthesis report" that compiles the climate action commitments of all parties to the Paris Agreement by the end of February next year, based on in the NDCs filed in late December 2020.
The final synthesis report of the NDCs, he added, will be available when COP26 begins in early November next year, incorporating all the NDCs that are updated prior to the Summit.
“I highly recommend that Parties submit their new or updated NDCs in accordance with this timeline,” Ms. Espinosa wrote.
"In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NDC preparation process, the secretariat will update the NDC initial synthesis report closer to COP26 to ensure that it contains the latest information available."
In their current form, the NDCs made under the Paris Agreement are nowhere near enough to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 'well below' 2.0 ° C, the main goal of the climate treaty, so Governments are expected to redouble their efforts every five years.
Since the Paris Agreement was negotiated at the COP21 Summit in 2015, the first date for countries to strengthen their NDCs and improve their emission reduction targets falls this year.
Introducing more ambitious NDCs, including a growing number of national net zero emission targets, was considered a top priority at the Glasgow Summit, along with plans to finalize the technical regulation of the Paris Agreement before its entry into full legal force.
Several countries have already submitted their updated NDCs, some have garnered applause for strengthening their emissions targets and others, such as Australia, face criticism for barely changing their previous targets.
However, the one-year delay to the Glasgow Summit, coupled with the disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis, has fueled fears that many countries will not submit ambitious new NDCs before the original 2020 deadline.
There have even been fears that the UK, the co-host of COP26, which seeks to become a global climate leader ahead of the summit and has a key role in uniting other nations to accelerate their climate efforts, will miss the deadline. 2020.
Last month, UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, promised that the UK would “present our own most ambitious NDC as soon as possible”.
However, some observers have noted that a number of factors, including the scheduled release of new reports on the UK's planned net zero transition, mean that the government may struggle to meet the year-end deadline to formally submit its NDC.