A new report released on 26 October by the UN’s principal climate change watchdog, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, shows that countries are ‘bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward’ but underlines that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.
The report also shows current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.
Last year’s analysis showed projected emissions would continue to increase beyond 2030. However, this year's shows that while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend that the science says is necessary this decade.
The UN’s 2018 Climate Change report indicated that CO2 emissions needed to be cut 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. The latest science from the IPCC released earlier this year uses 2019 as a baseline, indicating that GHG emissions still need to be cut 43% by 2030. This is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
“The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year,” said Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UN Climate Change. “But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”
UN Climate Change analysed the climate action plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – of 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including 24 updated or new NDCs submitted after the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26) up until 23 September 2022. Taken together, the plans cover 94.9% of total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.
“At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans,” said Stiell. “The fact that only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted since COP 26 is disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”
However most of the Parties that submitted new or updated NDCs have strengthened their commitment to reducing or limiting greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and/or 2030, demonstrating an increased ambition in addressing climate change.
- A second UN Climate Change report on long-term low-emission development strategies, also released on 26 October, looked at countries’ plans to transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. The report indicated that these countries’ greenhouse gas emissions could be roughly 68% per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019, if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time.
Current long-term strategies (representing 62 Parties to the Paris Agreement) account for 83% of the world’s GDP, 47% of global population in 2019, and around 69% of total energy consumption in 2019. This is a strong signal that the world is starting to aim for net-zero emissions.
The report notes, however, that many net-zero targets remain uncertain and postpone into the future critical action that needs to take place now. Ambitious climate action before 2030 is urgently needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27) just around the corner, Mr Stiell called on governments to revisit their climate plans and make them stronger in order to close the gap between where emissions are heading and where science indicates they should be this decade.
“COP 27 is the moment where global leaders can regain momentum on climate change, make the necessary pivot from negotiations to implementation and get moving on the massive transformation that must take place throughout all sectors of society to address the climate emergency,” he said.
The UN Climate Change Conference COP 27 will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November this year.