The objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C maximum will not hold. And the consequences promise to be catastrophic. This is what emerges from the report of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) on the outlook for reducing emissions. According to this report, the climate commitments made by countries around the world place the planet on a warming trajectory of up to 2.9°C during this century, warned the UN on Monday, whose boss called leaders to “redouble their efforts” in the run-up to COP28.
Implementation of current climate commitments made by countries around the world will only limit the rise to 2.9°C taking into account their unconditional promises for the future (which are not subject to any conditions of external support ) according to this document published just before the start of major climate negotiations in Dubai as part of COP28 which begins at the end of November. This figure would be reduced to 2.5°C by integrating their conditional commitments (for example conditional on obtaining financing or the efforts of other countries).
“Leaders must step up their efforts dramatically, with record ambitions, record actions and record emissions reductions,” demanded UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “This requires uprooting the poisonous roots of the climate crisis: fossil fuels,” he insisted to the press on Monday.
“We have a lot of work to do because at the moment we are not at all where we should be” and “we must reduce our CO2 emissions phenomenally,” Inger Andersen, the director, also told AFP. Executive Director of UNEP. “Given the intensity of the climate impacts we are already seeing, neither of these two outcomes is desirable,” she insisted, referring to this range of 2.5 to 2.9°C.
The Paris agreement is in danger
These levels of warming are far too high to hope to limit the cruelest effects of climate change, which is already resulting in uncontrollable fires, devastating floods or droughts depriving populations of income and food, with current average warming of 1.2°C. The report published Monday worries about an “acceleration” in the number of records broken on the climate front. It is already almost certain that 2023 will be the hottest year ever recorded in the world, according to the European Copernicus Observatory.
These gloomy prospects also illustrate the risk of greatly exceeding the objectives of the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to keep the increase in global average temperature “well below 2°C” and to continue efforts to limit to 1.5°C. “In the most optimistic scenario, the probability of limiting warming to 1.5°C is only 14%,” calculates UNEP.
G20 countries must take action
To meet these objectives, which are increasingly difficult to achieve, very ambitious emissions reduction policies will have to be put in place, which must be “significantly strengthened”, repeats the UN Environment, based in Nairobi. “When we see that the G20 is responsible for 76% of global emissions, we know who must take fundamental responsibility,” points out Inger Andersen, urging these big economies (United States, EU, China, Saudi Arabia, etc.) to “ go forward “. “There are 193 countries in the world and it is not what the other 173 do that will make the difference,” underlines the manager.
In 2030, global emissions will need to be 28% lower than current policies predict to stay below 2°C, and 42% lower for the more ambitious limit of 1.5°C.
The UN therefore calls on States to strengthen their commitments, formalized every five years in the form of “nationally determined contribution” (NDC, in English) by the 195 signatories of the 2015 Paris agreement.
As COP28 approaches, Inger Andersen says she is optimistic about countries’ ability to make progress despite the fractures caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war. “Countries and delegations understand that, despite the deep divisions that exist and are undeniable, the environment and climate will not wait. We can’t press pause,” she insists.