• Emerging Voices

Why You Should Be Afraid--Very Afraid

Updated: Aug 26

What Everyone Should Know About NDCs


Sydney Charles has been active in climate campaigning for over ten years. She’s devastated that, whilst so much is known about solutions, so little is done by the powers-that-be. Indeed she is horrified. Even as the world needs to recover from the ongoing breakdown of the global system, many governments are awarding vast sums to polluting industries. Sydney is active in North London, arranging local events, working with community energy groups, and continually lobbying and protesting for carbon reductions at the national level. She also tracks the all important UN negotiations. Sydney tries to balance the continuous struggle between supporting positive actions and battling the malevolent forces of media and billionaires. Her passion for a Green New Deal has been overtaken by a passion for a green recovery from the pandemic – our only chance.

Her twitter handle is @sydcharles

Almost five years ago in Paris, in December 2015, 192 countries agreed to produce a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) pledging to bring down their Greenhouse Gas emissions. These ‘Paris Pledges’ can be found here – in the little known archive on the little known UN web site.


The Paris Agreement makes clear that pledges might not be sufficient to limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C. (footnote 1)


Frequent heat waves, fires, hurricanes, flooding, glaciers melting and cold ‘in the wrong places’ are signs we ignore at our peril. Most alarmingly, they are happening right now as we approach just 1°C increase in carbon emissions. We can no longer expect to live in the ‘green and pleasant land’ of our youth. But the looming global catastrophe could be minimised and delayed if every government was pressured into pledging to do much more, much sooner.


Panic and fear would appropriately ensue among billions if global citizens took in the fact that the aggregate of all the pledged emission reductions ‘bakes in’ emission increases leading to global warming of around 4°C, rather than the aim of only 1.5 °C. This will make vast areas of Earth uninhabitable.


The Paris Agreement required every Government to submit a new pledge by 2020. That is NOW. They were to include greenhouse gas reduction strategies through 2050. But already that may be too late. Many governments clearly have no intention of making more ambitious pledges. Indeed, many are not attempting to honour the pledges they have already made. footnote 2


Activists in every country, and the diaspora of every country, need to know what their climate abatement pledge contains and to pressure their government into submitting an update pledging maximum action in minimum time.


Increasingly, the public is developing a sense of anxiety about Climate Breakdown and Ecological Damage. But most citizens have a ‘non-existing level of knowledge’ about what actions their government has pledged that might pull us back from the brink. Most don’t know their government is pledging the minimum, whilst continuing to add to greenhouse gases. This inexorably warms the world, which disrupts weather patterns, which causes death and destruction.


As Greta Thunberg stated, “Public opinion is what runs the free world, and the public opinion necessary is today non-existing, the level of knowledge is too low.” (Time.com July 2020)


How to ensure that your government pledge maximises emission reduction and maximises sequestration:

  • First find the pledge for your country here and get all your contacts to find theirs

  • Second analyse the pledges with people who understand the country and the causes of climate change

  • Third publicise how inadequate the pledges are and the inevitable dangers to the country and the world

  • Fourth lobby and protest – either from within or from outside the country


It is in the interest of fossil fuel companies to control the message which gets accepted in governments. They insist that controlling green gas emissions is ‘not urgent’ and ‘would cost too much’. The huge benefits of improved air quality, more comfortable homes, better access to power for the disadvantaged, less conflict over oil are messages that get lost, distorted, buried under corporate hype.


Until the message gets through to every global citizen and to every politician on the urgency for public, ambitious climate abatement pledges, we will continue on the inexorable path of increasing climate damage. Life on earth will be impossible in at least some regions, and the planet we rely on will no longer be hospitable to our continuing presence.


Check out your government’s commitment to reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions!





John Kerry signed the Paris Agreement for the USA with his granddaughter in April 2016. The US is now on track to cancel that agreement.


(footnote 1)

Paris Agreement on aim and shortfall (p2)

Emphasizing with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels.


(footnote 2)




Climate Action Tracker July 2020



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