According to a new United Nations report, the world will face catastrophic weather events unless governments cut greenhouse gas emissions. The report reviewed all the commitments submitted by the Paris accord signatories and found that they would result in a 16% rise in greenhouse gasses by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
Scientists have warned that the world will be uninhabitable if governments do not curb greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming under a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase. Extreme events such as flooding, disease outbreaks and droughts would lead to massive losses of life if this were to happen.
“The world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7 degrees (Celsius) of heating,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “We need a 45% cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.”
In 2015, 200 countries made environmental pledges as part of the Paris Agreement. However, most countries have been slow to show serious commitment. In the latest review, the U.N. found that 113 countries had updated their commitments, with the latest submissions made by 30 July.
Emission targets, commonly known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs, are vital in determining cumulative emissions. For the countries that submitted targets, the U.N. report found that there would be a 12% drop in emissions by the end of the decade.
“That’s the positive side of the picture,” U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa said. “The other one is more sobering.”
The other side of the picture is that many major emitters did not submit commitments. This includes countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and India. Espinosa has now called for leaders from these countries and more to submit stronger commitments at the U.N. gathering in New York this week.
“Leaders must engage in a frank discussion driven not just by the very legitimate desire to protect national interest, but also by the equally commanding goal of contributing to the welfare of humanity,” Espinosa said. “We simply have no more time to spare, and people throughout the world expect nothing less.”
Lead image via Pixabay