UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Looking behind the numbers: is there clear concrete progress towards Paris Agreement goals?

8 September 2021

UCL academics contribute to report which assesses the UK debate about climate change policy and whether the political will and policies are in place to help meet the Paris Agreement.

Climate crisis

A new report is released today from Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) to assess progress made in meeting targets leading up to COP26 and identify remaining blocking points and obstacles that would need to be overcome in order to improve the capacity of the country or the sector, to align its ambition with the Paris Agreement mitigation objective.

There will continue to be detailed assessments of greenhouse gas emissions trends and targets in the lead-up to COP26 in November. Some of the headline conclusions are already clear: firstly, country commitments will be insufficient to put the world on track to achieve the collective “well below 2°C” goal in the Paris Agreement. Second, concrete policies and actions adopted by countries will not be sufficient to achieve their targets. But what lies behind these numbers?

This new report, led by IDDRI (a French think tank), offers a complementary perspective on the state of play by examining the conditions in key countries and sectors that will enable the far-reaching and systemic transformation that is required to meet the Paris Agreement's goals. 

The report assesses progress that has been made and identifies critical barriers that need to be overcome. The report's chapter on the UK, co-authored by UCL’s Dr Steve Pye and Professor Jim Watson, discusses the relative importance of climate change as a public policy issue, the governance of climate change action and the specific actions the UK government is taking to meet targets. They highlight the UK's strong public and cross-party consensus for action to reduce emissions and the clear governance framework to set targets and monitor progress. However, they point to contradictions between support for net-zero and potential investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure. There is also a lack of capacity and resources to match the ambitions of local government, and a series of increasingly large gaps in detailed policies and plans.