UN warns of surge in greenhouse gases

UN warns of surge in greenhouse gases

Sydney | The concentration of climate-changing greenhouse gases has hit a record high as countries fail to curb emissions from fossil fuels and other sources, the United Nations has warned.

In its 10th annual Environment Program (UNEP) Emissions Gap report, the UN says that global temperatures could climb another 3.9 degrees celsius by the end of the century, which would be catastrophic.

This made emissions-reduction by the biggest emitters more urgent than ever, the UN said.

Some countries would have to almost triple their emission-reducing efforts to hold temperature rises to the agreed maximum 2030 target of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“As things stand, temperatures can be expected to rise by 3.4 to 3.9 degrees celsius this century, bringing wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts,” the report’s authors warn.

via apinews.org

Global greenhouse gas emissions from all sources: United Nations Environment Program ‘Emissions Gap Report 2019’ United Nations

If nations were to meet the more preferable 1.5 degree warming limit, they would have to cut their emissions five times over, they warned.

The call  for more aggressive emissions reduction comes five days before relevant ministers and other experts from around the world converge on Madrid, the Spanish capital, for the COP25 “rule-book” conference to check in on Paris agreement implementation.

Even if all current national plans to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement were fully implemented, temperatures would climb beyond the the 1.5 degrees goal ahead of 2030, according to the report.

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 per cent in the last decade, with  China, the European Union, India and the United States contributing more than 55 per cent of the total. Within and beyond that, the G20 has contributed 78 per cent.

In 2018, total global emissions of carbon dioxide reached a record high of  55.3 giga-tonnes. The bulk of these – 68 per cent – came from burning fossil fuels to generate energy.

The UNEP’s executive director Inger Andersen said: “We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020.”

Australia, for its part, is hoping to secure a carve-out in Madrid, by meeting its obligations through “over-achievement” credits accumulated since countries began pledging emission reductions. Australia would be the only country seeking this carve-out.

“If this carry-forward approach is not taken, Australia will not achieve its 2020 pledge,” the report notes.

Unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year over the next decade, the report found the world would miss the chance to get on-track to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees. This is the preferred agreed temperature rise under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, from which the United States president withdrew in 2017.

The gap between what countries should be doing, and what they are actually doing — pumping rising levels of carbon dioxide into the air — has never been greater, according to the report.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change, said last week that nations should now reconsider the way they calculate total country-based emissions at the next round of negotiations.

According to an earlier UN report, major energy producing countries, including Australia, will extract about 120 per cent more fossil fuel than can be burned for governments to realistically keep their Paris pledge.

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