Hall of shame: Who hasn’t pledged yet to UN climate pact?

Nearly 50 countries missed the UN deadline for carbon-cutting plans. Whether due to limited means, sloth or belligerence, here are the big ones not playing ball

(Credit: Pixabay)

The majority of the list are oil-producing nations, threatened by goals to wean the world off fossil fuels (Credit: Pixabay)

By Alex Pashley

In the world of climate diplomacy there are no penalties, just reproachful gazes. 

As it stands, 49 countries covering about 10% of global greenhouse gases according to EU 2012 data, might get the silent treatment at a Paris summit in December.

At the close of UN talks in Poland in 2013, countries who were “ready to do so” were invited to produce an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) by the first quarter of 2015.

Analysis: 9 things we learned from national climate pledges

Just 33 managed that. But another 113 since got on board in time to meet a 1 October UN deadline for a stock-take of pledges.

Here are the top ten holdouts, ranked by their greenhouse gas emissions.

1. Bolivia – 1.19% of global emissions


Sun sets on Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s expansive saltflats which have been found to contain lithium deposits  (Flickr/ Mike Green)

The South American country, ruled by firebrand Evo Morales, for years has called for a world climate court and isn’t toning down its rhetoric before Paris. The natural gas exporter is planning its own summit to critique capitalism’s environmental destruction this month.

2. Iran – 1.05% of global emissions

Dependent on oil exports, Iran isn’t famed for being hawkish on climate change. Detente with the US has led to the striking of a nuclear deal, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying Iran backed a strong outcome in Paris.

3. Saudi Arabia – 1.05% of emissions

(credit: Pixabay)

(credit: Pixabay)

The Middle Eastern kingdom, which depends on oil for 90% of its export earnings, faces an uncertain future in a low-carbon world. Though top officials are championing its huge potential for solar power.

4. Sudan – 0.94% of emissions

The sub-Saharan country lost many of its oilfields when South Sudan seceded in 2011, but its emissions remain significant.

5. Pakistan – 0.71% of emissions

(credit: Pixabay)

Lahore (credit: Pixabay)

Pakistan may be planning to set up carbon markets, but in the mind of influential cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, Islamabad’s policies are a “joke“. The country felt the wrath of global warming this summer in a brutal heatwave that killed around 2,000 people.

Climate Home correspondent Aamir Saeed says its climate plan is waiting for the prime minister’s approval and is likely to come in before November.

6. Nigeria – 0.57% of emissions

Nigeria’s president, General Muhammadu Buhari promised to make addressing global warming a priority before coming to power in February, but no plan has yet materialised.

The African state is the continent’s top oil producer and one of the world’s top five producers of liquefied natural gas.

7. Egypt – 0.56% of emissions

(credit: Pixabay)

(credit: Pixabay)

A cradle of civilisation, Egypt hasn’t been forthcoming with carbon cuts. The vital player in international energy markets, due to the Suez Canal transit route, has a plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2019. Might it improve on that if it submits before Paris?

8. Venezuela – 0.54% of emissions

Venezuela’s climate chief told Climate Home in June she didn’t recognise the UN deadline, so the no-show comes as no surprise.

The South American country, like Saudi Arabia, is entirely dependent on oil export revenue, though lead envoy Claudia Salerno is keen to stress the value of its vast Amazon rainforests, which offset pollution.

9. Malaysia – 0.53% of emissions

(credit: Pixabay)

(credit: Pixabay)

A loud campaigner for climate justice, Malaysia has fought to keep intact a 1992 “firewall” exempting poor countries from CO2 reductions. A key member of the like-minded developing countries group, its negotiator raged against the legacy of colonialism at last year’s UN talks in Lima.

10. United Arab Emirates – 0.39% of emissions

Another large oil producer, the gulf state encompassing Abu Dhabi and Dubai is “working very hard to diversify” its economy, its negotiator insisted in Lima.

Read more on: Asia | Middle East | NDCs