Climate action needs to rise at least five-fold to meet the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement as the world is currently heading for a temperature rise of over 3°C, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has warned.

To mark 10 years of the Emissions Gap Report, UNEP has outlined the lessons learned during this period which it has labelled the lost decade.

The bleak assessment is sobering. “Despite a decade of increasing political and societal focus on climate change and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not been curbed, and the emissions gap is larger than ever,” the report said.

While Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris Agreement, a lot more needs to be done. Numbers are currently being updated for the forthcoming Emissions Gap Report 2019 which will show global GHG emissions continued to grow in 2018, breaking the 2017 record.

“There has been no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade. The effects of climate policies have been too small to offset the impact of key drivers of emissions such as economic growth and population growth,” the report said.

The Emissions Gap Report will show that nations must triple the level of ambition reflected in their current NDCs to get on track towards limiting warming to below 2°C, while at least a fivefold increase is needed to align global climate action and emissions with limiting warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century. For this to be realistic, new and enhanced NDCs need to be agreed upon by 2020 and the implementation of existing actions accelerated, the report said.

The 2018 report documents the rapid increase in the number of actors participating in climate action: more than 7,000 cities from 133 countries and 245 regions from 42 countries, along with more than 6,000 companies with at least $US36 trillion in revenue, have pledged mitigation action.

While increased participation will help, the report concludes that a continuation of current policies would lead to a global mean temperature rise of between 3.4°C and 3.7°C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels.

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