Published on Nov 20, 2023 at 6:26 p.m.Updated Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:38 p.m.
A few days before the opening of COP28, which takes place from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, the UN is calling for a real start from its member states. The latest annual report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is more than alarming. Addressing the gap between necessary emissions and current prospects for limiting global warming (“Emission Gap Report”) it shows that the current commitments of countries are very far from sufficient to respect the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming below 2°C, and to do everything to get closer to 1.5°C .
According to the conclusions of this highly anticipated report, current policies to reduce greenhouse gases rather predict a warming of 3°C by the end of the century, compared to the pre-industrial era. The “unconditional” reduction commitments made by countries are leading the planet towards a warming of 2.9°C, a level which would be reduced to 2.5°C also taking into account the commitments made under conditions (receiving financial support, For example).
Rapid and ambitious response needed
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has once again called for a rapid and ambitious response. “Leaders must dramatically redouble their efforts, with record ambitions, record actions and record emissions reductions,” he insisted, recalling the importance of “rooting out the poisonous roots of the climate crisis.” : fossil energies “. A subject which should be at the heart of the debates at COP28.
According to the UNEP report, the chances of managing to limit warming to 1.5°C are only 14%, in the most optimistic scenarios. This would require drastically reducing emissions by the end of the decade: by 42% (and by 28% for a warming of 2°C). A report published last week by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) showed that current trajectories led instead to a decrease of 2% compared to 2019.
Progress has certainly been made since the Paris Agreement of 2015. UNEP notes that the government policies then in place would have led to an increase in emissions of 16% compared to the level at the time. Thanks to changes made by governments, this has been reduced to 3%. This is still largely insufficient. In addition, the progress made since last year’s COP27 is “negligible”, the report also recalls.
Far from starting to decline, greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.2% last year, compared to 2021, indicates UNEP: they reached 57.4 gigatons of CO equivalent2 in 2022. A pace which even turns out to be “slightly higher than that of the decade preceding the Covid-19 pandemic”, note the authors.
In the absence of reaction, humanity is heading straight for catastrophe. THE successive IPCC reports show that even at 1.5°C, the effects of warming will be devastating for hundreds of millions of humans. “Given the intensity of climate impacts we are already seeing, neither outcome [+2,5 °C ou +2,9 °C] is desirable,” recalled Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
The observed warming has already reached +1.2°C. While the year 2023 is on track to be the hottest on record, the extreme events which have increased in recent months (heatwaves, floods, fires) foreshadow the climatic conditions of the future. Will COP28 be the meeting of the salutary start? Inger Andersen wants to believe it. “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 recalled.