Considering current levels of emissions and the commitments made by countries to curb climate change, the world is on track to become almost 3°C warmer this century, according to an analysis by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). published this Monday (20).
The annual Emissions Gap report evaluates nations’ commitments to combating climate change against the measures needed to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis. The study points out that the world will experience between 2.5°C and 2.9°C of warming compared to pre-industrial rates if governments do not accelerate emissions cuts.
If the planet actually becomes 3°C warmer, scientists predict that several irreversible catastrophic points could be overcome, such as the melting of polar ice caps and the drought of the Amazon rainforest. In this scenario, vast regions of the planet would become practically uninhabitable for human beings.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen urged G20 nations, responsible for around 80% of emissions, to lead global emissions reductions and accelerate their energy transition. Some, she warned, are in “pause mode.”
“It is absolutely critical that the G20 intensifies its efforts,” Andersen told the AFP news agency.
The planet’s average temperature is already 1.2ºC above the pre-industrial era and this year is expected to be the hottest on record. The report highlights that “the world is witnessing a disturbing acceleration in the number, speed and scale of climate records broken.”
“Leaders must dramatically redouble their efforts, with record ambitions, record actions and record emissions reductions,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a press conference. “This requires uprooting the poisonous roots of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.”
The survey also shows that emissions forecast for this decade need to fall substantially for the Paris Agreement to be fulfilled. The commitment made by more than 190 countries in 2015 is to keep global warming well below 2°C, with efforts to ensure that the rate does not exceed 1.5°C.
By 2030, global emissions must be 28% lower than current policies suggest to remain below 2ºC, and 42% lower to reach the more ambitious limit of 1.5ºC.
Even in the most optimistic scenario, the possibility of meeting the 1.5ºC target is now only 14%, says the document.
The Emissions Gap Report was released ten days before the start of COP28, the UN climate summit, which takes place between November 30th and December 12th in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. World leaders will meet with the aim of keeping the goal established in the Paris Agreement alive.
The UNEP executive director considers herself optimistic about COP28, despite the divisions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Countries and delegations understand that regardless of the deep divisions that exist and are undeniable, the environment will not wait and the climate certainly will not,” Andersen said.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, levels of the three main greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — broke records last year.
Greenhouse gas emissions rose 1.2% between 2021 and 2022, to a record equivalent to 57.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide.