Current global emission reduction commitments are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and avoid the more significant impacts of climate change, a UN report announces.
According to the report, the current climate pledges made by 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement will lead to global warming of around 2.5 °C by the end of the century, an excess of 1 °C above the limit.
In 2015, the parties pledged to reduce their emissions as part of the Paris Agreement. To do this, each nation submitted commitments for national reduction, these are also known as Nationally Determine Contributions (NDC). Countries are then responsible to meet these commitments in some way in their home countries.
The report reveals that even when combined, these commitments are inadequate to keep temperatures below the 1.5 °C goal. Instead, the commitments would result in an increase in emissions by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.
By contrast, the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released earlier this year indicates that emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030 if we are to meet the agreement’s goal by the end of this century.
On a positive note, the 10.6% increase in emissions represents slight progress over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on track to raise emissions by 13.7% by 2030.
Last year, COP26 saw countries agree to upgrade their climate pledges, ready for this year’s summit in Egypt to bridge the gap in emission reduction, however to this date only a handful of countries have submitted revised NDC’s.
“At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans,” said Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UN Climate Change in a statement. “The fact that only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted since COP 26 is disappointing.”
The EU, currently the world’s third-biggest polluter, behind the US and China is yet to update its commitments, but agreed to do so by the end of the year.
Taking place this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, COP27 aims to be an “implementation COP”. Countries will be urged to update their commitments and focus on putting them into practice.
“COP 27 is the moment where global leaders can regain momentum on climate change, make the necessary pivot from negotiations to implementation and get moving on the massive transformation that must take place throughout all sectors of society to address the climate emergency,” said Stiell.
The cost to avoid climate change
Research conducted by the American investment banking services corporation, titled ‘An investor’s guide to Net Zero by 2050’, suggests the global economy is drastically behind schedule in hitting 2050 net zero goals but could be reached with $100 trillion of green investment.
However, the impacts of climate change are already occurring, causing heatwaves, droughts, and flooding across the planet. Annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to reach $140-300bn in 2030 and $280-500bn in 2050.
Why is 1.5 °C important?
A half-degree Celsius difference in temperature increase might seem inconsequential, but, the difference for life on Earth could be huge, as highlighted in the TED talk below.
The predicted consequences of just a 0.5 °C increase above 1.5 °C include coral reefs facing an almost complete die-off, extreme weather becoming more common, and global ice melting, flooding coastal cities.
A report produced in 2021 by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a thinktank that produces annual global terrorism and peace indexes, said that the climate crisis could displace 1.2bn people by 2050.
Indirect effects, such as the knock on effect on vital supply chains and infrastructure, will impact billions more.
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