Stay up to date with free updates
Just register Climate change myFT Digest – delivered straight to your inbox.
The world is on track for temperatures to rise up to 2.9°C above pre-industrial levels even if countries meet their Paris Agreement climate promises, according to a report from the UN Environment Program.
UN chief António Guterres said meeting the Paris target of limiting the rise to ideally 1.5°C and well below 2°C would require “rooting out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels”.
“Otherwise we’ll just pump up the lifeboats and break the oars at the same time,” he added. The world has already warmed by at least 1.1°C.
Ahead of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai in ten days, the latest UN report estimated the size of the gap between the emissions curve implied by climate pledges and the emissions curve needed to limit warming.
Greenhouse gas emissions levels reached a new high of 57.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the UN emissions gap report said, after rising 1.2 percent from 2021 to 2022.
Guterres described this “gap” as a “chasm full of broken promises, broken lives and broken records.”
Emissions cuts of 14 billion tonnes, or 28 percent, are needed by 2030 to keep warming to less than 2 °C, and a more ambitious reduction of more than 40 percent, or 22 billion tonnes, is needed to meet the 1.5 °C threshold is realistic.
According to UN analysis, the world currently has only a 14 percent chance of limiting warming to the 1.5 degree target, even if countries make all pledges, including weaker conditional pledges from developing countries, as well as the non-binding net zero -Maintain goals.
Full implementation of the efforts implied by unconditional national commitments would put the world on track to limit temperature rise to 2.9°C, while measures dependent on financial and technical support would lead to temperatures not be more than 2.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. These were given a probability of 66 percent.
“Leaders have been in sleep mode, so it’s time for them to step up,” Inger Anderson, head of UNEP, told the Financial Times.
Guterres said the joint statement issued last week by the world’s two biggest polluters, China and the United States, to cooperate on some measures was a “positive first step.”
UN leaders expect three concrete commitments from nearly 200 countries at the COP28 summit, including tripling renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency and money for a “loss and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope to help climate change.
The UNEP stressed that the detailed climate action plans presented by the signatories of the Paris Agreement did not match the targets included in their net zero commitments. In particular, none of the G20 countries reduced emissions quickly enough to meet the countries’ net zero targets, it said.
The long-term average 1.5 degree target enshrined in the Paris Agreement, at which scientists expect there will be irreversible changes to the planet, is a different measure than the average increase in a given month or year.
On this basis, climate researchers have calculated that average temperatures were above 1.5 °C on 86 days between January and the beginning of October.
Last week, the daily average global temperature exceeded 2°C above pre-industrial levels for the first time, the EU Earth observation agency Copernicus said. “This does not indicate a violation of the Paris Agreement, but rather underlines our proximity to the internationally agreed limits,” it said.
Where climate change meets the economy, markets and politics. Discover the FT’s coverage here.
Are you curious about the FT’s environmental sustainability commitments? Find out more about our science-based goals here