UN emissions report ‘thundering wake-up call’

National plans to cut carbon fall far short of what’s needed to avert dangerous climate change, according to the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme (UNEP).

Their Emissions Gap report says country pledges will fail to keep the global temperature under 1.5C this century.

The UNEP analysis suggests the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts.

But there is hope that, if long term net-zero goals are met, temperatures can be significantly reined in.

Just a few days before COP26 opens in Glasgow and another scientific report on climate change is “another thundering wake-up call”, according to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

This week, we’ve already had a study from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) showing that warming gases were at a new high last year, despite the pandemic.

Now in its 12th year, this Emissions Gap report looks at the nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) or carbon-cutting plans that countries have submitted to the UN ahead of COP.

These pledges run up to 2030 and have been submitted by 120 countries. UNEP has also taken account of other commitments to cut warming gases not yet formally submitted in an NDC.

The report finds that when added together, the plans cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by around 7.5 per cent compared to the previous pledges made five years ago.

This is nowhere near enough to keep the 1.5C temperature threshold within sight, say the scientists who compiled the study.

To keep 1.5C alive would require 55 per cents cuts by the same 2030 date. That means the current plans would need to have seven times the level of ambition to remain under that limit.

“To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C, we have eight years to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions: eight years to make the plans, put in place the policies, implement them and ultimately deliver the cuts,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“The clock is ticking loudly.”

According to the authors, the current pledges would see the world warm by 2.7C this century, a scenario that Antonio Guterres calls a “climate catastrophe”.

He believes the report highlights the failures of political leaders.

“The emissions gap is the result of a leadership gap,” he said at the launch of the study. -BBC

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