The UN has warned that the world is on the verge of a “climate disaster” revealing countries are far behind in reducing global warming emissions.
After “woefully inadequate” progress in curbing warming, a UN report said, governments are pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions put the planet on track for an average 2.8 degrees Celsius temperature rise this century.
At the COP27 climate talks, which will take place in Egypt from November 6 to 18, representatives worldwide will attempt to reach agreements on commitments to keep global warming to less than 2C, ideally to 1.5C. (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to the annual UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report released on Thursday, additional commitments made since the previous UN climate conference in Scotland last year have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 0.5 gigatonnes, or less than 1% of the estimated global emissions in 2030.
Unless strengthened, promises so far will likely lead to a 2.8C rise in temperature by the end of the century, 0.1C higher than was estimated last year.
“We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster,” said Inger Andersen, executive director at UNEP.
As countries seek to improve, some have offered further action, provided it is contingent on international financial and technical support. If implemented fully, these “conditional” pledges could reduce expected warming to a 2.4C rise, while unconditional pledges could lead to a 2.6C rise, the report said.
“We still aren’t anywhere near enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions (to the levels required),” Andersen told reporters at a briefing.
“But we must try. Every fraction of a degree matters,” she said.
The report stated that to keep global warming to 1.5C, annual emissions must be cut by 45% from what is predicted under existing policies in just eight years. The transition to a low-carbon global economy will cost at least $4-6 trillion annually.
According to a separate UN report analyzing the latest pledges submitted by countries earlier this week, 2.5C of warming is likely by the end of the century.
Earlier this week, the World Meteorological Organization said greenhouse gas concentrations climbed above-average rates to records last year.
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