Paris Climate Summit Should Strengthen Country Climate Pledges

ACT Alliance Global Climate Ambassador, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town
ACT Alliance Global Climate Ambassador, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town

Today, October 1, is the deadline for countries to submit their national climate pledges to the UN. It is time to count and analyse to see how far we have come. Will national pledges sum up, and fulfil the targets set by climate science? The answer is already known, and it is negative. The total amount of actions will not keep the global temperature increase well below two degrees Celsius, which means that we may face drastic effects of climate change in the future.

ACT Alliance Global Climate Ambassador, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town says:

“The level of ambition is far too low, and it makes me concerned. Poor and vulnerable people, with limited responsibility for the emissions leading to climate change are the ones who are affected the most. People with little capacity to cope with extreme heat, flooding and other impacts risk losing their lives, livelihoods, and may be forced to leave their territories and everything they have”.

The UN climate talks culminate in Paris in December where a global climate agreement is expected to be adopted. The agreement will create a framework for climate action, and global cooperation in the coming decades and thus the outcome will have an important role to play for future development.

Co-Chair of ACT Alliance Climate Change Advisory Group Mattias Söderberg says: “We can now conclude that the national pledges have fallen short, and therefore call for scaled up ambition. The most important result from Paris will be to create a stepping stone, which can be used to increase actions in the coming years. We need an agreement with rules that enable scaling up, and prevent all countries from backsliding.”

Since there was no joint agreement about the format of national pledges, the pledges made by governments differ a lot. It makes it difficult to compare, and therefore undermines clarity and transparency of the process. Some countries have only referred to their mitigation targets, while others also cover adaptation in their pledges. In addition many developing countries have made their pledges conditional, because they will need financial support to make them happen.

Mattias Söderberg adds: “We therefore ask governments to agree to a robust system that will allow for a periodic review of their pledges with the aim of incrementally doing more. We also hope that COP 21 can still agree on common rules, in implementation, reporting and accounting of the climate pledges.’’

Many developing countries have indicated that they will need support, to implement their plans. This is understandable, and also fair. Developed countries have a big historic responsibility as their past development endeavours have led to the emissions, which have largely contributed to the situation we are facing today. Poor countries will, apart from the challenges we see due to climate change, also have at address a range of other development needs, to help poor and vulnerable people fulfil their basic human rights.

There are only two months left before COP 21, and it is time for negotiations to deliver result.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says:

“Paris must be a success; not because we should give politicians and leaders a good reputation, not because Paris should be known as the city where the climate agreement was adopted, not because the UN process needs a success to survive, but because the people of the earth need it. COP 21 will certainly not solve everything, but it must deliver a strong stepping stone which can be used for scaled up action in the coming years.’’



ACT Alliance is an international humanitarian and development network comprising 144 organisations working in 140 countries. ACT is behind the “Act now for Climate Justice” global campaign,

For more information, contact:

Mattias Söderberg, co-Chair of the Climate change advisory group, ACT Alliance,, tel. +45 3315 2800, m. +45 2970 0609

Isaiah Toroitich, Global Advocacy and Policy Coordinator, ACT Alliance,, tel. +41 22791 6245 m. +41 79825 7899