Pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions will lead to global heating of 2.5C, a level that would condemn the world to catastrophic climate breakdown, according to the United Nations.

Only a handful of countries have strengthened their commitments substantially in the last year, despite having promised to do so at the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November. Deeper cuts are needed to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which would avoid the worst ravages of extreme weather.

Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, said: “This does not go far enough, fast enough. This is nowhere near the scale of reductions required to put us on track to 1.5C. National governments must set new goals now and implement them in the next eight years.”

The plans for emissions cuts countries submitted in Glasgow were inadequate to meet the 1.5C goal so they agreed a “ratchet” mechanism to toughen their targets year on year. However, few governments have updated their plans on emissions in line with 1.5C.

The UN calculated on Wednesday that the plans submitted by governments would lead to a temperature rise of between 2.1C and 2.9C, with the best estimate about 2.5C. This represents a “marginal” improvement, said Stiell, on the 2.7C temperature rise that would have followed from the commitments made at Glasgow.

He said greater action was needed from the private sector as well as governments. “This is not just about words on paper, this is about getting stuff done,” he said. “We need to see more from the private sector and non-state actors [such as local governments].”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *