Countries are making increasingly far-reaching plans to mitigate climate change, but even if they are all implemented, it will not be nearly enough to prevent dangerous global warming. This is what UNEP, the United Nations environmental programme, writes in its annual report published on Monday Emissions Gap Report. In it, scientists calculate the gap between what countries have agreed to do and what is needed to keep global temperatures at a safe level. The report comes just two weeks before the UN climate summit in Dubai, COP28, where representatives of around two hundred countries are meeting.
“We are breaking the wrong records,” writes the head of UNEP, Inger Andersen. “The report shows that the world must change course, otherwise we will say the same thing next year – and the year after that, and the year after that. Like a record that is broken again and again.”
Possibly 2.9 degrees warmer
More than 150 countries shared their climate plans with the UN climate agency at the end of last month. If all countries really implement these plans, global greenhouse gas emissions will be two to nine percent lower than now by 2030, the researchers calculated. But that is not enough. Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed in 2015 to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 28 to 42 percent. With the plans now on the table, the earth will warm up by 2.5 to 2.9 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. The chance that the world will still manage to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is 14 percent in the most optimistic scenario, according to the researchers. For this, countries would also be dependent on technology that has yet to be developed.
The Earth has now already warmed up by about 1.2 degrees Celsius. Last year, one heat record after another was broken. September was the hottest month ever recorded worldwide and the oceans were unprecedentedly warm. The warmer, the greater the risks of floods, drought and heat-related deaths.
How unevenly the consequences of the climate problem are distributed across the world is once again clear from Oxfam Novib’s new climate report, which was also published on Monday. The richest 1 percent of the world, a group of 77 million people including millionaires and billionaires, emitted the same amount of CO2 as the poorest 66 percent, a group of 5 billion people. While developing countries are more vulnerable to the consequences of climate change: they have fewer resources to adapt to a warmer climate.
In 2019, the richest ten percent of the world were responsible for half of all CO2emissions, a group to which two out of three Dutch people belong. On average their CO2emissions nine times too high to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.