The world is way off target to meet Paris climate pledges and is currently heading for dangerous levels of warming, according to a damning UN report.
Temperatures are on track to rise 2.5C-2.9C compared to the 1.5C limit agreed in Paris that would avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
The report found that despite the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drastically by 2030, they continue to rise – by 1.2% in 2022.
“In short, the report shows that the emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon”, said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
“A canyon littered with broken promises, broken lives and broken records. All of this is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable and a massive missed opportunity.”
Emissions rose to a record 57 Gt/CO2e in 2022. This means the world now has to cut emissions by 42% by 2030 in order to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. To hit the less ambitious target of 2% warming, emissions must fall by 28%.
The report said that “relentless mitigation and low-carbon transformations” were essential to have any chance of meeting these targets.
The report did note some progress in countries’ action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). If all NDCs are implemented fully, GHG emissions would fall 5 Gt/CO2e, or 9%, by 2030, still well short of what is needed.
The report called on all countries to take more ambitious and transformative action, but particularly developed economies that have greater financial resources.
It highlighted the need to transform energy production away from fossil fuels – emissions from current and planned coal, oil and gas plants would emit more than three-and-a-half times the amount of CO2 consistent with limiting warming to 1.5C.
COP and Global Stocktake
The report comes at the end of a year in which numerous temperature records have been broken. September was the hottest month ever recorded, with average temperatures 1.8C above pre-industrial levels. This is 0.5C above the previous record. One in three days over the first nine months of the year breached the 1.5C limit.
Against this backdrop, the UN called on leaders to take decisive action at COP in Dubai, starting later this month, urging them to use the Global Stocktake – the first global inventory on climate action – as the basis for greater ambition.
“Leaders must drastically up their game, now, with record ambition, record action and record emissions reductions”, said Guterres.
“The next round of national climate plans will be pivotal. These plans must be backed with the finance, technology, support and partnerships to make them possible. The task of leaders at COP28 is to make sure that happens.”