The world will need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6%/year for the next decade in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the United Nations Environment Program said in a report Tuesday.
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The steep trajectory needed represents an unprecedented rate of reduction, meaning the global target is likely to be missed without much more radical decarbonization efforts.
"Even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2 degrees C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts," UNEP said in its annual Emissions Gap report.
Collective ambition must increase more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade to be on track to meet the 1.5 C goal, it said.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, almost 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to no more than 2 C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 and to aim for no more than 1.5 C.
"For ten years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm -- and for ten years, the world has only increased its emissions," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the report.
"There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution," he said.
G20 NEEDS TO STEP UP ITS GAME
The G20 group of richest nations collectively account for 78% of global emissions, but only five members have committed to a long-term zero emissions target, UNEP said.
To limit temperatures, annual emissions in 2030 need to be 15 billion mt of CO2 equivalent lower than current unconditional national pledges imply for the 2 C goal, and need to be 32 billion mt lower for the 1.5 C goal.
That compares with global greenhouse gas emissions of roughly 50 billion mt/year.
On an annual basis, this means emissions cuts of 7.6% per year would be needed from 2020 to 2030 to meet the 1.5 C goal, and 2.7% per year to meet the 2 C goal, it said.
Global temperature increases can still be limited to 1.5 C, and many ambitious efforts are already visible from governments, cities, businesses and investors, UNEP said.
"Solutions, and the pressure and will to implement them, are abundant," it said.
The energy sector in particular, and the potential of efficiency in the use of materials in general, can go a long way to closing the emissions gap, it said.
The COP25 summit in Madrid, which runs from December 2-13, aims to finish off a global deal on how an international emissions trading system would work -- a key element which negotiators failed to agree on at the COP24 meeting in December 2018.
And a year later in November 2020, parties to the Paris Agreement are expected to raise their ambition by submitting revised national emissions pledges aimed at closing the gap between current action and what the science indicates will be necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.
-- Frank Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Edited by James Leech, email@example.com