Earth is on track to experience a temperature increase of at least 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if nations fail to intensify climate action, a new UN report has warned.
A total of 86 days so far this year have already crossed the 1.5-degrees Celsius temperature threshold, the UN’s Emissions Gap Report said.
The Emissions Gap Report is an annual publication by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that evaluates national commitments against the necessary measures to combat climate change.
Failure to intensify climate action could result in global warming ranging from 2.5°C to 2.9°C above pre industrial levels, the report said.
The forecasts come in the lead-up to COP 28, the upcoming global climate summit starting on 30 November, where climate finance is expected to be a key focus.
“The report finds that fully implementing and continuing mitigation efforts of unconditional nationally determined contributions (NDCs) made under the Paris Agreement for 2030 would put the world on course for limiting temperature rise to 2.9°C this century,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the UNEP, said.
With a near 3°C increase in temperature, scientists anticipate the world may surpass various critical points of no return, ranging from the uncontrollable melting of ice sheets to the potential drying out of the Amazon rainforest.
Not only was September the hottest month ever, the global average temperatures surpassed the previous record by an unprecedented 0.5°C, reaching 1.8°C above pre-industrial levels.
These records came alongside destructive extreme events, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautioning that these represent just the initial stages of more severe consequences.
Although these records do not indicate that the world has surpassed the 1.5°C temperature limit outlined in the Paris Agreement—focused on global warming levels calculated over multi-decadal averages—they do indicate a growing proximity to that threshold.
To achieve the long-term temperature goals underlined in the Paris Agreement, the report focused on countries’ NDCs, which they are obligated to revise every five years. The countries have been requested to submit these NDCs by 2025, while including the emission reduction targets for 2035.
The goal of the report was to ascertain the potential global warming if these plans were fully executed.
If global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 fail to decrease to levels indicated by existing NDCs, it will become unattainable to restrict warming to 1.5°C with or without minimal overshoot, which is when the global temperature briefly exceeds the target but returns to the target relatively quickly. This failure will significantly heighten the difficulty of limiting warming to 2°C.
“The world needs to lift the needle out of the groove of insufficient ambition and action, and start setting new records on cutting emissions, green and just transitions, and climate finance – starting now,” said Anderson.
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