Emissions need to be halved by 2030, say researchers, but who’s listening?
The aim is to limit warming to 1.5°C; so far, only two governments’ plans — Morocco and Gambia — are enough to meet this figure
London — Emissions need to be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C but temperatures are on track to reach double that by the end of the century even if countries’ current plans are fully implemented, research by scientists shows.
Climate Action Tracker, a group of European researchers, tracks countries’ progress towards the globally agreed aim of limiting warming to well below 2°C and a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.
Public concerns about climate change are growing and have led to protests around the world.
However, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were at a record high in 2018 and new renewable power capacity has stalled after years of strong growth. At the same time, methane, a more potent greenhouse gas (GHG) than carbon dioxide, has risen in recent years due to oil and gas production, including fracking.
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An assessment of 32 nations’ climate plans by Climate Action Tracker shows that only two governments’ plans — Morocco and Gambia — are enough to meet the 1.5°C limit.
If nations fully implement the plans they made under the 2015 Paris Agreement, temperature rise is on track to reach 3°C by the end of the century, just slightly lower than the 3.3°C rise the tracker forecast last December.
“Public concern is rising fast, with global movements such FridaysForFuture and Extinction Rebellion pushing governments towards action as people take to the streets,” said Niklas Höhne of NewClimate Institute, one of the organisations which provides analysis for the Climate Action Tracker.
“As we turn from climate change to a climate crisis, the public priority is rising, and we expect governments to take bold action,” he said.
On Tuesday, UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa told government representatives and UN officials meeting in Bonn, Germany, that they were falling far short of what was needed to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 to limit global warming.
However, some countries have announced new targets, such as Britain’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050; and Chile’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2050 and shut all coal plants by 2040.
At present, five countries — including India and Costa Rica — have targets compatible with limiting a temperature rise to 2C, the Climate Action Tracker report said.
Ten more — including Brazil, Canada, the EU, Australia and New Zealand — have plans compatible with a 3°C limit; nine more, including Japan, China and Chile, have targets compatible with a 4°C limit.
Five countries — Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Ukraine and the US — have targets compatible with a world experiencing temperature rise above 4°C, the report said.
Governments have been urged to put forward new plans to increase efforts to combat climate change at a UN summit this September in New York.