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World News

Many countries to miss Paris climate plan deadline due to COVID-19 delays: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) - Many countries will miss a deadline to submit updated climate action plans by 2020 as mandated by the Paris climate pact due to COVID-19 delays, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A man refills water in a jojo tank loaded in one of the trucks hired to deliver emergency water to residents, at Blue Gum Bush in Qwaqwa, in the Free State province, South Africa, February 5, 2020. Picture taken February, 5, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Compliance with the commitment to upgrade climate action plans every five years is seen as important to the success of the 2015 global pact under which nations agreed to hold warming well below 2 degrees Celsius.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres last week urged action on climate change, saying humanity was waging a suicidal war on nature.

The U.N. Development Programme supports 115 of the 197 countries that signed the 2015 Paris deal through its “Climate Promise” programme which includes many of the world’s poorest nations.

They collectively account for nearly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and include some high emitters like Nigeria and Mexico.

“According to the latest intelligence from UNDP’s Climate Promise, countries continue to grapple with the timing of their NDC submissions as the COVID-19 crisis and political shifts in many countries continue to unfold,” the report said, referring to nationally determined contributions.

So far, just eight of the countries the UNDP programme assists including Mongolia and Rwanda have submitted revised climate plans and about 30 are expected to do so by year-end, the report and a U.N. official said.

In January, more than 100 were aiming for the 2020 deadline.

However, the report showed that 70 percent of countries indicated that they are likely to increase their ambition versus just over 50 percent in March.

“COVID has also been an opportunity for countries to increase their ambition and come to the table with something that may even be more robust that it would have been otherwise,” said UNDP’s Climate Advisor Cassie Flynn.

“Now as the conversation has gone from response toward a recovery (from the pandemic) conversation – we have really seen climate be more a part of this,” she added.

Reporting by Emma Farge, Editing by William Maclean

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