SOURCE: Nature Climate Change

DATE: February 18, 2019

SNIP: Achieving the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5 °C requires substantial changes in the land system. However, individual countries’ plans to accomplish these changes remain vague, almost certainly insufficient and unlikely to be implemented in full. These shortcomings are partially the result of avoidable ‘blind spots’ relating to time lags inherent in the implementation of land-based mitigation strategies.

[P]roper assessment of mitigation options and NDCs requires factoring in the speed with which ambition and policy translate into beneficial on-the-ground activity. Without this, unrealistic expectations about the rate and extent of mitigation will delay and eventually preclude the adoption of appropriate targets. This effect is already clear in land-based mitigation policies, which are affected by a number of time lags that are rarely anticipated in the design of mitigation policies. Partly as a result, of the 197 countries that have produced NDCs so far (representing 96.4% of global GHG emissions), no major industrialized country has yet matched its own ambitions for emissions reductions. Of 32 countries (representing 80% of anthropogenic emissions) considered by the independent scientific organization Climate Action Tracker, only two (Morocco and the Gambia) are rated as achieving ‘Paris Agreement-compatible’ implementation of their NDCs. Global CO2 emissions appear to have risen in both 2017 and 2018 after previously levelling off. We argue that such setbacks can, and must, be avoided by improved assessment and recognition of the time lags inherent in land-system policy-making, management change and feedback dynamics.