UN warns key warming threshold is slipping out of sight

Pakistan

Pakistan

There is “no credible pathway” to keep the rise in global temperatures below the key 1.5C threshold, according to a grim new assessment from the UN.

Scientists believe that going above 1.5°C would have dangerous effects for people around the world.

The report says that since COP26 last year, governments’ carbon reduction plans have been “woefully inadequate”.

Only an urgent transformation of society will avert disaster, according to the study.

There is just over a week left until the next major climate conference, known as COP27, begins in Egypt.

Aware that the world’s attention has shifted since climate diplomats met in Glasgow last year, this week has seen an avalanche of reports highlighting the fact that climate change has not gone away.

Responding to questions from BBC viewers and listeners this week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the world must refocus on climate change or face disaster.

BBC speaks with UN chief António Guterres in New York

BBC climate editor Justin Rowlatt spoke to UN chief António Guterres in New York

This gloomy mood among scientists and diplomats is underscored in today’s release of the United Nations Emissions Gap Study.

Now in its thirteenth year, the report analyzes the gap between rhetoric and reality.

It concludes that the 1.5C threshold is now in serious jeopardy.

This analysis reveals that new efforts to reduce carbon would reduce global emissions by less than 1% by 2030, when scientists say reductions of 45% are needed to keep 1.5 ° C in play .

Looking at the impact on temperatures, the study finds that with current policies in place, the world will warm by around 2.8°C this century.

some lakes

California drought has led to lower water levels in lakes and reservoirs

If countries get financial support and put into practice the plans they have developed, it can be limited to 2.4C.

“We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, who produced the study.

“Only a radical transformation of our economies and societies can prevent us from accelerating climate catastrophe,” she said.

The UN recognizes that achieving massive emission reductions is now a daunting challenge. But he points to electricity, industry, transport and buildings as areas where rapid transformations away from fossil fuels can be achieved.

“We need to take climate change with us wherever we go,” Ms Anderson said.

“In the classrooms, in the lecture halls, in the voting booth, over the dinner table. We can’t give up on climate change.”

In addition to highlighting the slow progress in tackling the causes of global warming, other studies released this week show that governments are not preparing for the effects of rising temperatures.

In the UK, a committee of MPs and peers has said the government must “get a handle” on the risk to critical infrastructure posed by global warming.

Amazon

Firefighters battle blazes in the Amazon

The Joint National Security Strategy Committee report cites examples of severe weather events that have overwhelmed transportation and communications.

These include the deaths of three people in a train derailment in Scotland after heavy rain in August 2020 and the loss of power to nearly a million people during Storm Arwen in November 2021.

“What I find most troubling is the lack of evidence that anyone in government is focusing on how all the impacts can combine, creating cascading crises,” said the chair of the joint committee, MP Dame Margaret Beckett.

“There are simply no ministers with responsibility for ensuring that our infrastructure is resilient to extreme weather and other effects of climate change.”

While nearly every report out this week highlights the lack of progress on climate, there are some strong positives amid the gloom.

The State of Climate Action study indicates that in transport, the transition to sustainable travel is well underway. Globally, almost half of the buses sold in 2021 were equipped with battery or fuel cell electric motors.

electric buses

Electric buses now account for almost half of all new sales worldwide

In passenger car sales, electric vehicles doubled from the previous year to now account for almost 9% of new cars.

This note of hope is also reflected in the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, also released today.

He argues that the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine is causing changes that could accelerate the transition to a more secure and sustainable energy system.

The report also reveals that a series of new policies in countries like the US, Japan, Korea and the EU are likely to drive clean energy investments of around $2 trillion by 2030, an increase of more than 50% compared to today.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathbbc.

Additional reporting by Esme Stallard

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