Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

Summit organizers say they want countries to commit to keeping the Earth on track towards the 1.5C target through doubled promises to decarbonise their economies.

But according to UNEP, even the most up-to-date and ambitious plans from around 120 countries set the world on track to warm 2.7C.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said the report showed the world “was still heading for a climate catastrophe”.

“As world leaders prepare for COP26, this report is yet another thunderous wake-up call. How many do we need?”

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, signatories are required to submit new emission reduction plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs every five years, each more ambitious than the last.

Lagos, one of the largest cities in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is experiencing dangerously high levels of emissions and extreme weather.

Source: EPA

UNEP said recent commitments would shave 7.5 percent off previously predicted 2030 emission levels.

In order to maintain a 1.5C trajectory, a reduction of 55 percent is needed, it is stated.

A 30 percent cut is needed to heat 2C, a threshold that the Paris Agreement obliges nations to keep temperatures “well below”.

“To have a chance to limit global warming to 1.5 C, we have eight years to almost halve greenhouse gas emissions,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

‘Imminent danger’

UNEP said the COVID-19 pandemic led to an “unprecedented” 5.4 percent drop in global emissions by 2020.

But even this was not enough to narrow the gap between humanity’s current emission path and a 1.5C world.

To put the challenge in sharp perspective, it said countries should cut CO2 and its equivalent in other greenhouse gases by a further 28 billion tonnes by 2030; Carbon dioxide emissions alone are expected to hit 33 billion tonnes by 2021.

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The co-author of the report, Anne Ohloff, told AFP that it showed that there had been “progress” with emissions since the Paris Agreement.

“The new (NDC) commitments shave 4 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent annually by 2030 compared to the last ones,” she said.

“But of course it is far from sufficient. In general, we are very far from where we should be.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in August that the Earth could reach the 1.5C threshold as soon as 2030 and be consistent above that by the middle of the century.

The report said that even though all net-zero promises were fully delivered, there was a 66 percent chance that temperature rises could be limited to 2.2C.

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“There is no appetite for reducing fossil fuel consumption globally at the rate required to meet our climate goals,” said Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford.

This year’s Emissions Gap report focused on the role of global warming played by methane, the most potent greenhouse gas.

It found that existing technical measures could reduce man-made methane emissions by 20 percent per year with little or no additional cost to industry.

It also said that the plans of many of the 49 countries that have made net-zero promises remained “vague and not reflected in NDCs”.

“Overall, a net zero target must be accompanied by immediate political action against ambitious 2030 targets,” said Joanna Depledge, of the Cambridge Center for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance.

“Otherwise it’s pure virtue signaling.”

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