The globe is accelerating to 2.5 to 2.9 degrees Celsius (4.5 to 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming since pre-industrial times and will go well beyond the agreed international climate threshold, according to a United Nations report.
To have an even chance of limiting warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) limit set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries must cut their emissions by 42% by the end of the decade, according to the report The UN Environment Program report on the emissions gap was released on Monday. CO2 emissions from burning coal, oil and gas rose 1.2% last year, the report said.
This year the Earth got a taste of what was to come, says the report, which sets the table for international climate negotiations later this month.
Through the end of September, the daily global average temperature was 1.5 degrees Celsius above mid-19th century levels on 86 days this year, the report said. However, according to the European climate service Copernicus, this number increased to 127 days, as 1.5 degrees were reached or exceeded in almost all of the first two weeks of November and all of October. That’s 40% of the days so far this year.
The globe reached two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels for the first time in recorded history on Friday, according to Copernicus deputy director Samantha Burgess.
“It’s really an indication that we’re already seeing a change, an acceleration,” said report lead author Anne Olhoff of the Danish climate think tank Concito. “Based on what science tells us, this is just a whisper. What will be in the future will be more like a roar.”
The 1.5 degree target is based on a period measured over many years rather than days, scientists said. Previous reports suggest Earth will reach this longer-term limit in early 2029 without dramatic changes in emissions.
To prevent this, the world’s countries need to set tougher targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and take measures to achieve those targets, Olhoff said.
In the last two years, only nine countries have set new targets, so that hasn’t changed anything, but some countries, including the United States and those in Europe, have taken measures that have slightly improved the outlook, she said.
The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $375 billion in clean energy spending, would reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 1 billion tons by 2030, Olhoff said.
That sounds like a lot, but the world emitted 57.4 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2022 and to limit warming to the 1.5 degree mark, emissions must be reduced to 33 billion tons in 2030. That’s an “emissions gap” of 24 billion tons.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “The emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon – a canyon full of broken promises, broken lives and broken records.”
That’s why the report says the chance of keeping warming at or below 1.5 degrees is about one in seven, or about 14%, “very, very slim indeed,” Olhoff said.
If the world wants to settle for a warming limit of 2 degrees Celsius – a second-tier limit in the Paris agreement – it only needs to cut emissions to 41 billion tonnes, with a gap of 16 billion tonnes from now, the report says.
Since the world has already warmed by nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century, the report’s projections would indicate an additional 1.3 to 1.7 degrees Celsius (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming to 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century.
For two years, countries have known that they would have to come up with more ambitious emissions reduction targets if the world wants to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, but “none of the major emitters have changed their commitments,” said Niklas Hohne, co-author of the study New Climate Institute in Germany.
That’s why little has changed in recent years regarding the gloomy outlook of the annual emissions gap reports, said Olhoff.
This year’s emissions gap report is accurate but not surprising, and the projected temperature range is consistent with other groups’ calculations, said Climate Analytics scientist Bill Hare, who was not involved in the report.
Guterres reiterated his call for countries to phase out fossil fuel use in time to maintain the 1.5 degree limit, saying: “Otherwise we will simply inflate the lifeboats and break the oars at the same time.”
“We now know that the effects of climate change, global warming of around 2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius, will be massive,” Olhoff said in an interview. “I think that’s fundamentally not a future that anyone wants for their children, grandchildren and so on. The good news, of course, is that we can act and we know what we have to do.”
Source : www.theglobeandmail.com