Climate: the world towards +2.6°C due to “pitifully” insufficient commitments

Climate: the world towards +2.6°C due to « pitifully » insufficient

DAY

New warning shot 10 days from COP27: international commitments leave Earth on course for 2.6°C warming, a result “pitifully not up to par” for the boss of the UN, which calls for an end to “greenwashing”. 

And the reduction policies as currently carried out by States, unable to meet their own commitments, are leading us towards a warming of 2.8°C, while the year 2022 has already seen the impacts of climate change multiply – dramatic floods, droughts, heat waves or forest fires, recalls the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a report analyzing international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Or the Paris agreement, the main treaty to combat global warming concluded in 2015, sets the objective of containing “the rise in the average temperature of the planet well below 2°C” and if possible at 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era. Time when humans began to use fossil fuels in quantity, which produce the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, which has already reached nearly 1.2°C.

The last COP26, a year ago in Glasgow, called on the almost 200 countries that signed the agreement to strengthen their letters of commitment detailing their plans to reduce emissions, technically called the “nationally determined contributions” ( NDC). 

But as of the end of September, only 24 countries had filed new or revised NDCs, which would only help reduce emissions in 2030 by a small additional percentage point, according to calculations from UNEP, which warns that “the world is racing towards a temperature increase well above the Paris agreement target”.

Papitable

Commitments “pitifully not up to par”, launched UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a scathing video message. “We are headed for a global catastrophe”.

The report calculates that at the end of September, the accumulation of unconditional commitments (of actions or external financing) “gives a 66% chance of limiting the warming to around 2.6°C by the end of the century”.

The effective implementation of the current commitments would result in a drop in global emissions of 5% (NDC unconditional) or 10% (NDC conditional) in 2030 compared to today. Where they would have to fall by 30% to meet the 2°C objective, and by 45% to limit warming to 1.5°C. That's three to nine times more!

Taking into account the national commitments to “carbon neutrality” which have recently multiplied, often by 2050, the increase could even be contained to 1.8°C, returning to the nails of Paris. But “this scenario is currently not credible”, immediately tempers the report.

Mr. Guterres was more direct: “Commitments to carbon neutrality are worth nothing without plans, policies and actions to support them,” denounced the UN boss. “Our world can no longer afford to greenwash, to have pretenses, to be latecomers”.

“Year wasted”

Another report, published on Wednesday by the UN-Climate agency, had also pointed to “very insufficient” commitments, while noting that emissions could drop from 2030.

But 2022 will have been “a wasted a new year,” Anne Olhoff, lead author of the UNEP report, told AFP. “Which is not to say that all countries are not taking things seriously. But overall, it's very far from satisfactory”.

Because to achieve the necessary “massive cuts”, i.e. around 7% global reduction in emissions per year, the UN points out that it is no longer time to adopt a “step by step” strategy. On the contrary, “big, large-scale, rapid and systemic transformation is now essential.”

In energy, this transformation is underway, according to the International Energy Agency ( AIE), whose director Fatih Birol now foresees “the end of the golden age of gas”, a paradoxical effect of the crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is forcing Europe to do without Russian gas.