UN issues climate change ‘red alert’ amid troubling data

Mankind needs to cut heat-trapping gas pollution by 45% between 2010 and 2030 but we are on track for 1%

Governments are “nowhere close” to cutting greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a stark warning on Friday.

New data showed leaders are badly failing to meet a goal agreed to in Paris in 2015 to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial times this century.

According to UN climate treaty experts, known as the UNFCCC, mankind needs to cut heat-trapping gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 against 2010 levels. We are currently on track to reduce them by only 1 per cent.

“Today’s interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet,” Mr Guterres said.

“It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5°C and meet the goals of the Paris agreement.”

The study was made up of reports from 75 countries on progress towards their national climate action plans before key climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

Mr Guterres urged “major emitters” such as the US China, India and Russia to “step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets” before that meeting.

“Decision-makers must walk the talk,” he said.

“Long-term commitments must be matched by immediate actions to launch the decade of transformation that people and the planet so desperately need.”

Under the Paris agreement, most world governments pledged to keep global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to strive to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C.

The planet has so far warmed by 1.2°C and is headed for at least 3°C this century, increasing the risk of bushfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather that could ignite conflicts over scarce natural resources.

The report comes after the US re-entered the accord last week, after US President Joe Biden reversed a 2017 decision by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to exit the agreement while calling climate change a hoax that was harming the economy.

Mr Biden pledged to put the US on a track to net-zero emissions by 2050 to match the swift and steep global cuts that climatologists say are needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change, using curbs on fossil fuels and investments in clean energy.

Updated: February 26, 2021 06:16 PM

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