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Insufficient promised emissions cuts lead to climate breakdown

Insufficient promised emissions cuts lead to climate breakdown

Almost a decade has passed since the world set out to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, it has been possible to stop the growth of some of the compounds that, after more than a century of flooding the atmosphere, have triggered a global climate crisis. But according to a new United Nations report, current plans to cut emissions are “insufficient” to stop global warming and all the damage caused by it.

The analysis, presented today, concludes that, in the best of cases, if all countries respected the promises adopted during the Paris agreement, the world would continue to be exposed to a global increase in temperatures of 2.5 degrees on average. This represents an increase of one degree more than the ‘safety threshold’ of 1.5 degrees indicated by countless scientific studies. If the average temperature exceeds this figure, the world will be exposed to cascading damage to the health of people, wildlife and ecosystems.

The publication of this report occurs a few weeks before the start of the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, the diplomatic meeting in which they will try to outline the measures to curb the increase in global emissions. Last year, at the Glasgow summit, the countries unanimously recognized that the policies implemented to date were not enough to curb global warming and promised to review their plans and present “more ambitious measures” at the Egyptian summit.

Global emissions

  • The Earth is on track to warm 2.5 ºC: the plans of the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement are not enough to achieve a safe climate
  • The new report of the United Nations Framework Convention predicts that global emissions of greenhouse gases may peak before the year 2030
  • Emissions by the end of the decade would increase by 10% compared to 2010 but would decrease by 0.3% compared to 2019.

According to the latest estimate based on reports submitted by the 193 parties to the Convention, temperatures by the end of the century would rise 2.5°C above pre-industrial levels. That figure is, in any case, one degree more than the most ambitious goal established in the Paris pact against global warming.

Despite some progress in the last year, governments must do more in the coming years to ensure that global temperature rise by the end of the century is less than 2°C, or 1.5°C, as the highest target.

Improvement compared to the 2021 evaluation

The so-called National Contribution Synthesis Paper reaches these conclusions by analyzing the National Climate Action Plans, also known as Nationally Determined Contributions (or NDCs), submitted in 2015.

The report shows the total global level of emissions considering all contributions, including the most recent, indicating that these would increase by 2030 by 10.6% compared to 2010 and decrease by 0.3% compared to the 2019 level. All of These are lower figures than those shown in last year’s report (when at the end of the decade it was +13.7% compared to 2010).

“This shows that the parties to the Paris Agreement are increasing the ambition of their climate action in accordance with article 4 of the Paris Agreement” and in response to the call made in the Glasgow climate pact, says the UN.

Last year’s analysis showed that projected emissions would continue to rise beyond 2030. In contrast, this year’s analysis indicates that while emissions no longer increase after 2030, they still do not demonstrate the rapid downward trend that, according to science is necessary for this decade.

If all plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are met, global emissions will total 49.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (49.1 GtCO2 eq) in 2030, 0.3% less than 2019 levels, indicating emissions could peak before the end of this decade.

What are the necessary reductions?

The 2018 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report indicated that CO2 emissions should be reduced by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. This is the essential condition to meet the target of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heat waves and rains.

And with the perspective of this same objective, the most recent science (that which emanates from Group III of the IPCC’s sixth report) indicates that gas emissions must be reduced by 43% by 2030 compared to 2019.

Under scenarios to keep the most likely warming below 2°C (with more than 67% probability), emissions in 2030 should be 27% lower than in 2019.

And not acting correctly has a high cost. If emissions aren’t reduced enough by 2030, cuts will need to be much steeper after that date to make up for a slow start on the path to net zero, the requirement to stop global warming, according to the report.

Only 24 countries have complied

At this time, according to the United Nations analysis, only 24 of 193 countries have fulfilled this task. “It is disappointing to see that since last year only 24 countries have provided updated climate plans. Governments must convey the urgency and seriousness of the events we are facing and the little time we have left to avoid the direct consequences of the climate emergency”, warns Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations climate change department in the presentation of this latest report.

“The Sharm el-Sheikh summit will be the moment for world leaders to take decisive action against climate change,” said Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian foreign minister and chairman of the summit, which will take place from November 6 to 18 at the Egyptian city. “We are in a race against time. These reports remind us that we are far from doing enough to stop this global crisis”, said the diplomat after the publication of this latest report.

The NDC synthesis report showed that current commitments would lead to an increase in emissions of around 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found that countries would increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.

Long-term strategies (by 2050)

A second report also from the Framework Convention on Climate Change concludes that emissions could be approximately 68% lower in 2050 compared to 2019 if all climate action strategies aimed at achieving a balance of zero emissions by mid-2019 were implemented.

The research, which focused on long-term climate goals, warned that countries are procrastinating and excessively postponing climate action in their 2050 climate-neutrality plans, as they should become a reality in this decade and not later.

Current long-term strategies (representing 62 parties to the Paris Agreement) account for 83% of the global GDP, 47% of the global population in 2019, and around 69% of total energy consumption in 2019.

This is a strong signal that the world is beginning to aspire to achieve a balance of net zero emissions.

However, the report notes that many net-zero emissions targets remain uncertain, postponing critical action that needs to be taken now. Ambitious climate action is urgently needed before 2030 to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

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