The efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century and could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the century’s end, a new report from the United Nations (UN) Climate Change reveals Wednesday.
The UN Climate Change report includes climate pledges of 193 parties under the Paris Agreement and shows that current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
UN Climate Change analyzed the climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), of 193 parties to the Paris Agreement, including 24 updated or new NDCs submitted after the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26) up until Sept. 23, 2022. Taken together, the plans cover 94.9% of total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.
Countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the report shows this is an improvement over last year’s assessment which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.
This year’s analysis reveals that while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend science says is necessary this decade.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 43% by 2030 to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.
Increased ambition to address climate change but more action needed
“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year. 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,” said Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change.
Stiell warned that to keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.
He recalled that last year in Glasgow, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans but he found it disappointing that only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted since COP 26.
“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, the report offered glimmers of hope as countries demonstrated increased ambition in addressing climate change.
A second report today from the UN Climate Change on long-term, low-emission development strategies indicates that the countries’ greenhouse gas emissions could be roughly 68% lower in 2050 than in 2019 if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time.
However, many net zero targets remain uncertain and postponed into future critical action that needs to take place now, the report underlined as ambitious climate action before 2030 is urgently needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
Stiell, ahead of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties, or COP27, called on governments to revisit their climate plans and to strengthen them to close the gap between where emissions are heading and where science indicates they should be this decade.
World off-track on achieving Paris climate goal
Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-Designate described COP27 as the world’s watershed moment on climate action.
“The synthesis report is a testimony to the fact that we are off-track on achieving the Paris climate goal and keeping the 1.5 degrees within reach,” Shoukry said.
“This is a sobering moment and we are in a race against time. Several of those who are expected to do more are far from doing enough, and the consequences of this are affecting lives and livelihoods across the globe,” he added.
COP27 will take place in Egypt this year between Nov. 6 and 18.