The United Nations said Tuesday that the world is about to pass the point of no return to prevent the worst effects of climate change by the middle of the century.
In its “emissions gap” report, the U.N. concludes that “the current pace of national action is insufficient to meet” the targets set in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
“Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap number in this year’s report is larger than ever,” the report says.
The “gap” is the measure between anticipated carbon emission levels and the level of reduction needed to meet the Paris accord’s original goal of keeping global temperatures from warming 2 degrees or the more strict target of keeping temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees
To keep the Earth’s temperature from rising 2 degrees in the next decade, nations must “raise their ambition” by threefold. And to meet a stricter target of 1.5 degrees, nations must raise their ambitions by fivefold. President Trump decided to exit from the Paris climate agreement in 2017, but that won’t actually take effect until near the end of 2020.
The new U.N. report says most countries have not capped their carbon dioxide emissions, which would prevent them from emitting more. Instead, carbon dioxide emissions have increased in 2017, ending a three-year period of stabilization. The report says global temperatures are on a trajectory to rise 3 degrees by the end of the century.
The new U.N. Environment’s “gap” report follows the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent assessment that said allowing the Earth’s temperature to rise 1.5 degrees would have irreversible effects on the climate and that nations must move quicker to transition to renewable energy by the middle of the century.
“If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said U.N. Environment Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen — governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”