Countries must take more climate action to prevent the Earth from warming by almost 3 degrees this century. This is the conclusion of the United Nations climate department in a new report. The consequences of such a warming are not easy.
Record after record was broken this year: hottest summer, hottest September and expectedly the hottest year ever. These extremes provide the context for this not exactly optimistic report from the UN climate department UNEP. The so-called Emissions Gap Reportwhich compares global emissions and climate goals, is published annually.
The report shows that greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 1.2 percent in one year. This results in a record amount of CO2 in the air. In addition, it is emphasized that if countries do not take additional measures to further tighten their climate goals, the earth will warm up by about 2.5 to 2.9 degrees this century.
This estimate has been lower in recent years: last year, for example, a warming of between 2.4 and 2.6 degrees was assumed, and in 2021 it was 2.7. The fact that the estimates are now slightly higher is due to the fact that five models were used this year instead of one. This makes the predictions for 2100 more realistic, explains climate scientist Joeri Rogelj. Rogelj is lead author of the UN study.
Every degree of warming has major consequences: think of extreme weather, sea level rise, unliveable areas and the loss of many species. “If the Earth warms by 3 degrees, heat waves that used to occur once every fifty years will become the new normal,” the scientist gives as an example.
Governments must get to work now
To prevent such disasters, countries must make much greater efforts to reduce emissions. Only if emissions are reduced by 28 percent can warming be limited to 2 degrees in the year 2100 – with the target being 1.5 degrees. That climate goal was agreed worldwide at the climate summit in Paris in 2015. “With current policy, there is zero chance that warming will remain below 1.5 degrees,” says Rogelj.
Despite some progress since the Paris Agreement, there is still a gap between governments’ climate targets and their actual approach to reducing emissions. “New, stricter targets would be good. But it is more important that the current targets for 2030 and beyond are now put into practice,” says the climate scientist.
Despite his concerns about the consequences of climate change, Rogelj remains hopeful that countries will accelerate their climate action. The scientist sees many socio-economic benefits of the transition to a CO2-neutral society.
The energy transition can give millions of people worldwide access to affordable and clean energy and create employment in developing countries. To initiate that transition as quickly as possible, the G20 – the richest countries and historically large emitters – must financially support poorer countries, the researchers say.
The international climate summit will start in ten days in Dubai, where the balance will be taken. The timing of publication is therefore not coincidental: the report should give the starting signal for robust discussions at the top. The establishment of a fund for the most vulnerable countries will also be discussed in Dubai.