As typhoons, floods, heatwaves and droughts in the Asia-Pacific region highlight the need for decisive climate action, a new report released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNICEF finds that countries in the region need to increase and accelerate their climate ambitions to meet emissions reduction targets.
Nowhere is the urgency for climate action more apparent than in this region. In 2022, countries experienced unprecedented climate-induced disasters, resulting in human and economic losses that are undermining hard-won development gains in developed and developing countries alike.
As of August 2022, 39 out of the 49 countries included in the 2022 Review of Climate Ambition in Asia and the Pacific report have made carbon neutrality and net-zero pledges, and have started to develop enabling frameworks to support the implementation of their commitments. However, very few of these pledges are supported by updated and ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) commitments that will scale down greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees.
Furthermore 38 out of 49 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have submitted updates NDCs, which taken together contribute to 95 per cent of regional emissions. However, most of the major emitters are lagging - Australia and the Republic of Korea are the only countries in this group that have come up with higher ambition in the updated NDCs in 2022.
Collectively, the 49 countries in Asia and the Pacific were responsible for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Their current NDC commitments are projected to result in a 16 per cent increase from 2010 levels, rather than the 45 per cent reductions required by the 1.5°C pathway.
The Asia-Pacific region will only be able to drive ambitious climate action when regional carbon neutrality pledges are supported with higher ambition of NDC commitments and long-term low emissions strategies. Furthermore, the new report highlights the opportunity to strengthen measures related to national nature-based solutions in the updated NDCs, including specific commitments and implementation plans for terrestrial and marine nature-based solutions.
The report includes a Special Feature on Engagement of Children and Youth in Raising National Climate Ambition, which shows that civil society, and especially young people, are leading the climate action charge and are championing more urgent action and greater ambition. It advocates creating a seat at the table for all stakeholders - in particular children and young people - in the creation and implementation of climate action policies, programmes and decisions to facilitate implementing carbon neutrality and net-zero pledges.