UN report: ‘climate target of 2100 unattainable without a turbo’
Efforts must be increased fivefold to limit global warming to 1,5 degrees, warns the UN in a report for the climate conference in Madrid. Every minute lost increases the cost price and makes it more unlikely to reach the target.
Alarming CO2 emissions
Every autumn, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) measures the gap between the promises made in the Paris Climate Agreement and real global warming. Over the past ten years, global CO2 emissions have risen by 1,5% instead of falling.
2018 was another record year for emissions, and the peak of the temperature increase is not yet in sight. The UN report even assumes a global temperature increase of 3,2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
A drastic reduction in emissions is needed between now and 2030. To limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees, an annual effort of 2,7% less emissions will be needed between 2020 and 2030. To limit the warming to 1,5 degrees, this even means 7,6% less emission per year. Any delay makes the objectives of the Paris Agreement less achievable, the report warns.
The UN climate conference will start in Madrid on Monday. Sixty-six countries are already advocating climate neutrality by 2050; 70 countries promised to raise all their ambitions by next year at the latest. “We cannot wait until the end of 2020 to do more,” warns Inger Andersen, who leads the UN environment program. “Every country, every region, or city, every company, and every individual must take action,” she adds.
US steps out
The UN fears “far-reaching and even destructive consequences” if the climate ambitions are not increased, and that is only possible with a different lifestyle for each of us. The G20, the 20 most important developed and emerging countries, accounts for 78% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Six of these countries are already certain that they will not achieve their climate targets by 2020: Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, and the United States. Moreover, in a year’s time, the US will fully abandon the Paris Climate Agreement.
It is possible
Both China and India are meeting their targets. According to the UN’s report, they even have room to increase their climate ambitions. Only five of the G20 countries have committed themselves to becoming climate-neutral by 2050, which means that there will be no extra emissions.
A climate-neutral Europe by 2050 is the top priority of the new European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen. The Commission wants to put a first climate package on the table before Christmas, the so called ‘Green Deal’. This program of legislative and social measures will mainly affect electricity production, transport, construction, and the industry.
Three European countries are still struggling to achieve climate neutrality by 2050: Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Von der Leyen may be able to convince them if there are guarantees for a transit fund, which makes them less dependent on fossil fuels.
There is a chance that Belgium will also abstain because the Flemish government is on the brakes. Flanders wants to remain the lower limit of the European agreements of 10 years ago: an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.