Global warming to bring more destructive climate change impacts, says UN report

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Geneva | Published: November 26, 2019 1:56:53 PM

As per the UN Environment Programme's annual Emissions Gap Report, released here, countries must increase their determined contributions (NDCs) ambitions threefold to achieve the well below 2 degree celsius goal and more than fivefold to achieve the 1.5 degree celsius goal.

Global warming, climate change, UN Environment Programme, UN report, Paris AgreementIn the short-term, developed countries will have to reduce their emissions quicker than developing countries, for reasons of fairness and equity, the UNEP said. (Reuters)

Global temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2-degree Celsius by the end of the century even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris deal are implemented, a new UN report warned on Tuesday and said such a situation will bring more destructive climate impacts. As per the UN Environment Programme’s annual Emissions Gap Report, released here, countries must increase their determined contributions (NDCs) ambitions threefold to achieve the well below 2 degree celsius goal and more than fivefold to achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius goal. The report warned that even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2 degree celsius by the end of the century.

“If conditional NDCs are also effectively implemented, warming will likely reduce by about 0.2 degree Celsius,” it added. It also said that greenhouse gas emissions must be cut globally by 7.6 per cent to meet the target of keeping global temperature rise at 1.5 degree celsius, as per the Paris Agreement. “Unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement,” the report said.

The report comes a day after the head of the World Meteorological Organisation, Petteri Taalas, said on Monday that the greenhouse gases levels in the atmosphere hit a record high in 2018. The organisation’s main annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin listed the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 2018 at 407.8 parts per million, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. “Collective ambition must increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade for the 1.5°C goal,” said the Emissions Gap Report.

Each year, the Emissions Gap Report assesses the gap between anticipated emissions in 2030 and levels consistent with the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement. “The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 per cent per year over the last decade,” it said. Emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. “To limit temperatures, annual emissions in 2030 need to be 15 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent lower than current unconditional Nationally Determined Contibutions (NDCs) imply for the 2°C goal. They need to be 32 gigatonnes lower for the 1.5°C goal.

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“On an annual basis, this means cuts in emissions of 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 to meet the 1.5°C goal and 2.7 per cent per year for the 2°C goal. To deliver on these cuts, the levels of ambition in the NDCs must increase at least fivefold for the 1.5°C goal and threefold for the 2°C,” it said. UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen said it was the collective failure of the world that deep cuts in emissions were required. “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over seven per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” Andersen said, adding that countries cannot wait to act till the end of 2020.

“This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They and every city, region, business and individual, need to act now. “We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger nationally determined contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” she said, adding that if it is not done, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already warned that going beyond 1.5°C will increase the frequency and intensity of climate impacts, such as the heatwaves and storms witnessed across the globe in the last few years.

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In the short-term, developed countries will have to reduce their emissions quicker than developing countries, for reasons of fairness and equity, the UNEP said. “However, all countries will need to contribute more to collective effects. Developing countries can learn from successful efforts in developed countries. They can even leapfrog them and adopt cleaner technologies at a faster rate,” it said while releasing the report. Crucially, the report said all nations must substantially increase ambition in their NDCs, as the Paris commitments are known, in 2020 and follow up with policies and strategies to implement them.

Solutions are available to make meeting the Paris goals possible, but they are not being deployed fast enough or at a sufficiently large scale, it said. The report said that China, the EU28, India, Mexico, Russia and Turkey are projected to meet their unconditional NDC targets with current policies. “Among them, three countries (India, Russia and Turkey) are projected to be more than 15 per cent lower than their NDC target emission levels. These results suggest that the three countries have room to raise their NDC ambition significantly,” the report added.

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