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Global efforts falling short of climate goals, says UN report

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Sep 09, 2023 04:35 AM IST

Global climate efforts falling short of Paris Agreement goals, increasing chances of runaway climate crisis, says UN report.

The synthesis report of the first Global Stocktake released by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on the eve of the G20 leaders’ summit presented some inconvenient, but not unknown truths — global efforts on climate crisis are falling short of meeting the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming under 2 degrees C (over pre-industrial levels) and pursuing efforts to keep it under 1.5 degrees C.

A Czech firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire burning near the village of Provatonas in the region of Evros, Greece, September 3.(REUTERS) PREMIUM
A Czech firefighter tries to extinguish a wildfire burning near the village of Provatonas in the region of Evros, Greece, September 3.(REUTERS)

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The synthesis report sends a message to the leaders of countries that are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions that there are now increased chances of a runaway climate crisis.

The report highlights all the issues that have not made it to the summary outcomes in the climate and energy ministerials because of major differences in opinion among member countries. HT reported on September 6 that a leaked draft of the paragraphs on climate change from one of the G20 communique drafts circulating has raised concerns on whether the bloc will provide clear goals on a peaking year for emissions globally; trebling of renewable energy capacity; and phasing down fossil fuels — all of which which are critical for meeting Paris Agreement goals.

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The synthesis report, released on Friday, said that global emissions are not in line with modelled global mitigation pathways consistent with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, and there is a rapidly narrowing window to raise ambition and implement existing commitments in order to limit warming to 1.5°C .

The Global Stocktake assessment is a review of collective progress towards achieving the purpose and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. It is the most comprehensive assessment of global action on climate change to date, based on technical/scientific data and consultation with government experts, business leaders and civil society in the past two years. The success of the November COP28 climate conference will be measured on the extent to which governments respond to the recommendations and warnings in the stocktake.

Action is needed to increase both the mitigation ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions and the implementation of measures to achieve their targets. Trends in historical and ongoing GHG emissions provide important information to understand the current situation…” the report states.

Global GHG emissions are projected to peak between 2020 and at the latest before 2025 in global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot and in those that limit warming to 2°C. Global peaking of emissions has not yet been reached. Global peaking of GHG emissions should occur as soon as possible but peaking will take longer for developing countries, the report has said.

All Parties need to undertake rapid and deep reductions in GHG emissions in the decades after peaking. Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C with limited or no overshoot implies a reduction of around 43, 60 and 84% in global GHG emissions below the 2019 level by 2030, 2035 and 2050 respectively according to the latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In these scenarios, the median time frame for reaching net zero CO2 emissions globally is in the early 2050s, and net zero GHG emissions by the early 2070s.

“The basis of equity, the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty inform consideration of these mitigation pathways,” the report added.

These very mitigation pathways are at the very centre of the climate debate at G20.

“We need to triple renewable energy by 2030, commercialize other zero carbon solutions like hydrogen and scale up the energy system free of all unabated fossil fuels, while we eliminate the emissions of the energies we use today. We need to protect and enhance nature, safeguard carbon sinks and transform food systems that account for one third of emissions. And we need fundamental reform of the international financial architecture that was built for the last century,” said Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President-Designate in a statement responding to the GST report.

Delegates attending the G20 summit indicated that there has been some discussion and agreement on including trebling of renewable energy in the G20 communique or summary likely to come out on Sunday but with caveats on allowing use of so-called low carbon technologies which may include gas and carbon capture.

“The United Nations’ polite prose glosses over what is a truly damning report card for global climate efforts. Carbon emissions? Still climbing. Rich countries’ finance commitments? Delinquent. Adaptation support? Lagging woefully behind. This report is a wake-up call to the injustice of the climate crisis and a pivotal opportunity to correct course. We already know the world is failing to meet its climate goals, but leaders now have a concrete blueprint underpinned by a mountain of evidence for how to get the job done,” said Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute in a statement.

“More ambitious mitigation targets in NDCs are needed to reduce emissions more rapidly, and to align with each country’s long term low emissions development startegy towards just transitions to net zero emissions by or around 2050, while enhanced transparency can help track progress,” the report said.

The stocktake also recognises that money needs to be made available for Loss and Damage and energy transition in developing countries.

“It is essential to unlock and redeploy trillions of dollars to meet global investment needs, including by rapidly shifting finance flows globally to support a pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate-resilient development,” the report said.

“Significant finance flows continue being directed towards and subsidizing investments in high-emissions activities and infrastructure that lack resilience. Shifting these flows are critical to make rapid and durable progress towards achieving the Paris Agreement goals,” the report added.

“The first GST report essentially underscores what is already public knowledge, which is the current global emissions are not in line with the global mitigation pathways consistent with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement … The report is right in saying that there is a need to raise ambition and that much more action, on all fronts and by all actors, is needed to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. The value of the report therefore lies at best in establishing, on a scientific and collectively agreed basis, the need to raise the ambition. However, what is disappointing is that there is no indication of what needs to be done to bridge the widening gap in terms of ambition or division of responsibility amongst the countries or group of countries as per the agreed principles,” said R R Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute.

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