UN Issues Dire Warnings as Paris Agreement Enters Into Force

The international Paris Agreement to limit global warming to under 2oC this century compared to pre-industrial levels has come into force on 4 November, but UN has warned that even if the Paris pledges are fully implemented, the world is on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees this century.

The world must urgently and dramatically increase its ambition to cut roughly a further quarter off predicted 2030 global greenhouse emissions and have any chance of minimizing dangerous climate change, UN Environment said as it released its annual Emissions Gap report.

The report finds that 2030 emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – far above the level of 42 needed to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2oC this century.

Scientists agree that limiting global warming to under 2oC  this century compared to pre-industrial levels will reduce the likelihood of more-intense storms, longer droughts, sea-level rise and other severe climate impacts. Even hitting the lower target of 1.5oC will only reduce, rather than eliminate, impacts.

Waiting to increase ambition would likely lose the chance to meet the 1.5oC target, increase carbon-intensive technology lock-in and raise the cost of a global transition to low emissions, UN said.

“We are moving in the right direction: the Paris Agreement will slow climate change, as will the recent Kigali Amendment to reduce HFCs,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“They both show strong commitment, but it’s still not good enough if we are to stand a chance of avoiding serious climate change. If we don’t start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy. The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver. The science shows that we need to move much faster.”

The need for urgent action has been reinforced by the fact that 2015 was the hottest year since modern record keeping began. The trend is continuing, with the first six months of 2016 all being the warmest ever recorded. Yet emissions continue to increase, the report says.

However, the Gap report presents an assessment of the technologies and opportunities to find the further cuts required, including through non-state actors, energy efficiency acceleration and crossover with the sustainable development goals.

A new report released by the 1 Gigaton Coalition shows that renewable energy and energy efficiency projects implemented in developing countries from 2005 to 2015 will reduce emissions by almost half a gigatonne by 2020, including action by countries that do not have formal Cancun pledges.

“Internationally supported projects on renewable energy and energy efficiency are making significant contributions to reducing global greenhouse emissions,” said Børge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Thanks to the work of the 1 Gigaton Coalition we can measure and report the impact of these projects to see how far we still have to go to reach the climate goal. This is how the coalition aims to inspire countries around the world to raise their action and ambition on climate change through the energy sector.”

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