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UN Releases Depressing Climate Change Progress Report

Thursday, November 3, 2016 12:27
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A UN review of national emissions reduction plans has found many may be lacking the amounts required to keep the increase in global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius – thought to be the highest temperature we could hit to avoid a global calamity.

The report found that by 2030 the quantity of carbon dioxide coming into the atmosphere will be around 25 percent above the danger mark.

The investigation looked at pledges countries made under the recent Paris climate agreement. Many researchers said technology to get rid of carbon from the air will now be required to meet the Paris targets.

The UN Emissions Gap Report, developed by an international team of researchers, concluded that by 2030, global emissions are projected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. A gigatonne is approximately the same as the annual emissions generated by all forms of transportation in the European Union.

A Grim-Looking Future

The authors said this is far beyond the 42 gigatonnes required to have a solid chance of remaining below 2 degrees by 2100, and not even close to the 39 gigatonnes required to keep to 1.5 degrees as was agreed to in Paris last December.

While the report said the rate of increase for emissions is now decreasing, the scale of carbon entering the atmosphere would put the planet on target for an increase in temperatures of between 2.9 and 3.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

“We are moving in the right direction: the Paris Agreement will slow climate change,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said according to BBC News. “They both show strong commitment, but it’s still not good enough if we are to stand a chance of avoiding serious climate change.”

With the Paris Agreement becoming the law of the land on November 4, delegates from nearly 200 countries are meeting in Morocco next week to talk about the next steps that could be taken to reduce emissions. Experts have said governments will not just  rest on the reaching of a major international agreement but will see the meeting as an opportunity to push forward with more ambitious plans.


Image credit: Thinkstock

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