“No person or economy on the planet is spared from climate change, so we must stop setting unwanted records for greenhouse gas emissions, high global temperatures and extreme weather” , said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. “Instead, we need to break out of this old pattern of insufficient ambition and insufficient action, and start setting other records: in emissions reductions, green and just transitions and climate finance. »
The annual Emissions Gap Report highlighted both the progress and challenges facing global climate efforts.
A growing number of countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and meeting these commitments would limit the increase in global temperature to 2.5°C. Yet few of these commitments “are currently considered credible,” the UN said.
Lifetime emissions from current and planned oil, gas fields and coal mines are three and a half times greater than the carbon budget needed to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C. That would almost use up the entire budget needed to reach 2°C, the UN said.
“The only way to close the yawning emissions gap and halt this spiral of crisis – which is already causing unprecedented climate catastrophes – is through radical changes to the global energy system,” said Rachel Cleetus, Director Union of Concerned Scientists climate and climate policy. energy program.
The UN estimates that global CO2 emissions will reach 57.4 gigatons in 2022, a new record. This puts the world on track for 3°C of warming if policies continue on their current trajectory.
“Most countries and major emitters have set net-zero emissions targets for 2050 or slightly later,” said Taryn Fransen, director of science, research and data at the World Resources Institute and a contributor to the report. . The problem is that short-term policy “does not put countries on track to achieve these net-zero emissions targets.”
However, there are signs that the gap between countries’ climate ambitions and the policies they pursue is narrowing. At the time of the Paris Agreement, global emissions were expected to increase by 16% by 2030. Today, emissions are expected to increase by 3% by the end of the decade, according to the UN. Fransen said she is encouraged by progress in the United States and Europe, where governments are pressing ahead with plans to deploy clean energy technologies and reduce emissions.
This year’s reports reflect some methodological changes. The finding that the world is on track for 3°C of warming is higher than the 2.8°C anticipated in last year’s report. The UN findings are based on a series of modeling studies. This year’s edition relied on a larger number of studies, leading to an increase in global temperature results.
Greenhouse gas levels have risen steadily over the century, falling only briefly during the 2008 global recession and the Covid-19 pandemic, before resuming their rise. Many analysts believe the world is on the move heading towards a plateau of emissions, with reductions in the United States and Europe offset by increases in pollution in Asia. Carbon Monitor, an academic emissions tracker, estimates that global emissions were 0.4% higher in the first nine months of 2023, compared to the same period last year.
A version of this report was first published in E&E News’ Climatewire. Access more complete and in-depth reports on the energy transition, natural resources, climate change and more in E&E News.