UN: Current climate pledges will lead to ‘devastating consequences’

The United Nations has today warned nations are not doing enough to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, as current pledges put the world on track to reach 2.5°C by the end of the century.

This is way above the 1.5°C target 193 countries agreed upon under the Paris Agreement and even if this is met, the world will experience more extreme weather, rising sea levels and extinction.

The new UN report found current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030, a slight improvement from last year’s assessment which found a 13.7% increase was likely by 2030 and further increases beyond this.

Scientists who wrote the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2018 report say emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

traffic light sign underwater

‘The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,’ said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. ‘But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.’

At COP26 last year, countries agreed to strengthen their climate commitments, but only 24 have done so, which Mr Stiell called ‘disappointing.’

‘Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change,’ he said.

However, of these 24 which submitted new or updated climate plans, most committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 2025 or 2030, showing renewed ambition in tackling the crisis.

A second report analysing long-term strategies found emissions could be 68% lower in 2050 compared to 2019 levels if all proposals are implemented in full on time.

Ahead of COP27, Stiell is urging nations to enhance their climate plans, as many net-zero targets remain uncertain or postpone action into the future by, for example, relying on technologies which have not been fully developed yet.

COP 26 President Alok Sharma said: ‘It is critical that we do everything within our means to keep 1.5C in reach, as we promised in the Glasgow Climate Pact. These reports show that although we have made some progress – and every fraction of a degree counts – much more is needed urgently. We need the major emitters to step up and increase ambition ahead of COP27.’

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found some progress is being made, as carbon emissions are set to grow by just under 1% this year, a much smaller fraction than last year’s sharp increase following the pandemic.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema


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