Large annual drop in emissions needed to stay within 1.5 target

Published by Kayle Crosson on

November 26th, 2019

Global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by over seven per cent every year for the next decade if we are to stand a chance of staying within 1.5 degrees of warming, the UN has cautioned.

The stark warning follows the release of the latest Emissions Gap Report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report states that, even if all countries implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement, global temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2 degrees – double the 1.5 degree target. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has repeatedly stressed that going beyond 1.5 degrees will dramatically increase the intensity of climate change and the death and destruction that comes with it.

In order to keep warming within the 1.5 degree threshold, the report states that there will need to be a fivefold increase in collective ambition.

The report comes just days before the start of this year’s UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid where countries are expected to set out a climate action pathway for 2020.

The head of the UNEP, Inger Andersen, said that the world “simply cannot wait” until the end of 2020 to step up climate action, calling on countries to ramp up their proposed emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement.

“We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated. If we don’t do this, the 1.5 C goal will be out of reach before 2030,” she added. 

G20 commitments 

The report laid the emissions blame firmly at the feet of G20 countries such as the US, China, and Brazil – that are currently causing almost 80 per cent of all global emissions. 

Despite this, the report states, only five countries within the group have committed to a long-term zero emissions target despite a wealth of technical emissions reduction options available to them.

The UNEP has suggested a ban on all new coal-fired power plants in China and a commitment to the full decarbonisation of Brazil’s energy supply by 2050. 

Taking substantial climate action, the UNEP concluded, can still limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. 

“There are many ambitious efforts from governments, cities, businesses and investors,” the UNEP said.  “Solutions, and the pressure and will to implement them, are abundant.” 

Green Party Climate Change Spokesperson David Healy said that the UN reports shows that we are “not making the necessary changes to reach the goal we have agreed”.

“The consequences of our collective failure are terrifying. Poorer countries and people will be hardest hit but no-one is immune.

“We are starting to see the impacts of climate change across the world; the decisions we make now will have enormous consequences in the coming decades and for future generations,” Cllr Healy added.

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Categories: News

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.