Chris Carnevale | November 29, 2019 | Climate Change, Energy Policy

A brand new report by the United Nations Environment Program exhibits that pressing motion is required to cut back climate air pollution and stop the worst impacts of international warming. The annual Emissions Gap report, launched earlier this week, compares the pledges of air pollution discount that international locations have already pledged to towards the quantity of air pollution discount that should happen with a purpose to keep away from warming of 1.5° or 2° Celsius. Their conclusion: the world must dramatically step it up.

Key findings embody:

  • “We are on the brink of missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”
  • “If we rely only on the current climate commitments of the Paris Agreement, temperatures can be expected to rise to 3.2°C this century. Temperatures have already increased 1.1°C, leaving families, homes and communities devastated.”
  • “We need to close the ‘commitment’ gap between what we say we will do and what we need to do to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. Governments cannot afford to wait. People and families cannot afford to wait. Economies must shift to a decarbonization pathway now.”
  • “Scientists agree that to get on track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, emissions must drop rapidly to 25 gigatons by 2030 […] Our challenge: based on today’s commitments, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, over twice what they should be. […] Collectively, if commitments, policies and action can deliver a 7.6% emissions reduction every year between 2020 and 2030, we CAN limit global warming to 1.5°C. […] Every day we delay, the steeper and more difficult the cuts become. By just 2025 the cut needed would will be 15.5% each year, making the 1.5°C target almost impossible.”
  • “Most nations are expected to strengthen their climate commitments in 2020. To date, 71 countries and 11 regions, accounting for about 15% of global GHG emissions in total, have long-term objectives to achieve net-zero emissions, differing in scope, timing and the degree to which they are legally binding. This leaves countries representing the remaining 85% of global GHG emissions still to make similar commitments. The G20 (a group of 19 countries, plus the EU) account for 78% of all emissions. Theirs is the biggest opportunity to lead the world into a thriving, renewable future.”

And what if we overshoot 1.5° C and hit 2° C of warming?

  • “At 1.5°C, over 70% of coral reefs will die, but at 2°C virtually all reefs will be lost.”
  • “Over 6 million people currently live in coastal areas vulnerable to sea level rise at 1.5°C degrees, and at 2°C this would affect 10 million more people by the end of this century.”
  • “Insects, vital for pollination of crops and plants, are likely to lose half their habitat at 1.5°C but this becomes almost twice as likely at 2°C.”

You can see extra in regards to the distinction in impacts between 1.5° and 2° of warming within the graphic by World Resources Institute (beneath).

SACE lauded the Paris Agreement when it was created 4 years in the past as a framework for international locations all over the world to work collectively to attain mutual success. It was clear on the time that the pledges didn’t go far sufficient to restrict warming to 1.5° or 2°, however that the construction could be in place to incrementally pace up decarbonization as new nationwide objectives are submitted each 5 years.  Some international locations are making good on that potential, whereas others–most notably the U.S.–are usually not. For instance, the United Kingdom and France have each handed laws committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is what the science calls for to keep away from exceeding 1.5° of warming.  The Trump Administration, alternatively is within the course of of pulling out of the Paris Agreement and is probably going ceding a management place within the international clear energy economic system of the 21st century.

The new report makes clear: drastic motion is required to keep away from the worst impacts of international warming and the United States must not solely keep within the Paris Agreement, however considerably improve its commitments to decreasing dangerous climate air pollution.


Graphic courtesy World Resources Institute.

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