‘We must start setting records on cutting emissions,’ UN boss says after temperature records obliterated in 2023
“The world is on track for a “hellish” 3C of global heating, the UN has warned before the crucial Cop28 climate summit that begins next week in the United Arab Emirates.
The report found that today’s carbon-cutting policies are so inadequate that 3C of heating would be reached this century.
Temperature records have already been obliterated in 2023 and intensifying heatwaves, floods and droughts have taken lives and hit livelihoods across the globe, in response to a temperature rise of just 1.4C to date. Scientists say far worse is to come if the heat continues to rise and the secretary general of the UN, António Guterres, has repeatedly said the world is heading for a “hellish” future.
The UN Environment Programme (Unep) report said that implementing future policies already promised by countries would shave 0.1C off the 3C limit. Putting in place emissions cuts pledged by developing countries on condition of receiving financial and technical support would cut the temperature rise to 2.5C, still a catastrophic scenario.
To get on track for the internationally agreed target of 1.5C, 22bn tonnes of CO2must be cut from the currently projected total in 2030, the report said. That is 42% of global emissions and equivalent to the output of the world’s five worst polluters today: China, US, India, Russia and Japan.
Inger Andersen, the Unep executive director, said: “There is no person or economy left on the planet untouched by climate change, so we need to stop setting unwanted records on emissions, temperature and extreme weather. We must instead lift the needle out of the same old groove of insufficient action, and start setting other records: on cutting emissions and on climate finance.”
The UN warned earlier in November that the world’s fossil fuel producers are planning expansions that would blow the planet’s carbon budget twice over, which experts called “insanity”. Another recent report found that the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates, whose CEO, Sultan Al Jaber, will preside over Cop28, has the largest net-zero-busting expansion plans of any company in the world.
The new Unep report said that if all the long-term pledges by countries to cut emissions to net zero by about 2050 were achieved, then the global temperature rise could be limited to 2C. However, it concluded that these net-zero pledges “are not currently considered credible”. None of the G20 countries, which together produce 80% of CO2, are reducing emissions at a pace consistent with their net-zero targets, it said.
Another report, from UN Climate Change, published on 14 November, reached virtually the same conclusion as the Unep report. It found that existing national pledges to cut emissions would mean global emissions in 2030 were 2% below 2019 levels, rather than the 43% cut required to limit global heating to 1.5C.
“Governments are taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis – they [must] make bold strides forward at Cop28 in Dubai to get on track,” said Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change.“