International climate targets could be at risk because only a handful of countries have updated their emission reduction goals since last year’s Cop26 summit, campaigners have warned.
Just 16 out of 197 member countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have updated their plans for how to meet climate goals – known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs.
Countries are expected to submit updated plans by 23 September.
Labour has criticised the UK government, which holds this year’s Cop presidency, for setting a poor example as it has not yet submitted a new NDC.
Campaigners fear it may be hard to make progress at the Cop27 summit in Egypt in November when so many NDCs have not yet been updated.
Mia Moisio from NewClimate Institute said: “The lack of progress on new climate targets in 2022 is alarming and most major emitters seem to have no intention to update their NDC.
“With less than four months left to Cop27, all governments need move into a higher gear of climate action. For developed countries, this also means substantially increasing their climate finance contributions, without which their credibility will be at stake during the negotiations.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently diverted £100m away from international climate finance, which critics say could have been used to encourage more ambitious climate targets. That is despite the Overseas Development Institute thinktank having said the UK is currently only providing 71% of its “fair share”’ on climate finance.
There are concerns that the government may be distracted by the Tory leadership contest, keeping politicians from enacting the commitments made at Cop26.
Many declarations still do not have many signatories. For example, the deforestation declaration, hailed as a landmark agreement, has had just four more nations sign up to it since the summit: the Vatican, Nicaragua, Singapore and Turkmenistan.
Labour has accused the government of “wasting time” and has urged it to persuade other nations to update their NDCs and set an example by investing in green technology.
Kerry McCarthy, the shadow minister for climate change, said: “This government is meant to be in the driving seat during the Cop26 presidency. Instead it has been asleep at the wheel.
“This zombie government has failed to persuade the vast majority of nations to update their climate targets, and is refusing to use the tools available to it to make this happen.
“Britain should be leading the way, proving that investing in green technologies is the best way to bring down bills, improve energy security and grow the economy. Ministers need to get their act together by supporting green solutions at home and encouraging other countries to do the same.”
The government has been contacted for comment.