A new climate change report released on Thursday shows that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be impossible without immediate and large-scale emission reductions, the UN chief said.
The United in Science 2021 report, released by a series of UN agencies and science partners just weeks before the COP26 climate summit, said climate change and its impacts were accelerating.
And a temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has done nothing to slow the relentless warming, he found.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, reached at the COP21 summit, called for capping global warming well below 2 Celsius above the pre-industrial level, and ideally closer to 1.5 Celsius.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report’s findings were “an alarming assessment of the distance from Cape Paris” to meeting the Paris targets.
“This year, fossil fuel emissions rebounded, greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise and severe anthropogenic weather events that affected health, life and livelihoods on all continents,” he wrote in the foreword to the report.
“Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5 ° C will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet.” . “
COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be held in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.
Fossil greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2019, falling 5.6% in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions and the economic downturn.
But outside of air and maritime transport, global emissions, on average over the first seven months of 2021, are now at about the same levels as in 2019.
And the report says that the concentrations of the main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – continued to increase in 2020 and the first half of 2021.
Overall emission reductions in 2020 likely reduced the annual increase in atmospheric concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases, but the effect was “too small to distinguish from natural variability”, a- he declared.
The global average surface temperature for 2017 to 2021 – with this year’s data based on averages through June – is estimated to be between 1.06 C and 1.26 C above pre-industrial levels (1850-1900), according to the report.
The global average temperature near the surface is expected to be at least 1 ° C above pre-industrial levels in each of the next five years, with a 40% chance that it could climb to 1.5 ° C. C more in one of those years, he said. .
Guterres said the world has reached a “tipping point,” and the report showed “we’re really running out of time.”
World Meteorological Organization chief Petteri Taalas has warned that in a worst-case scenario, sea levels could rise up to two meters before 2100 if the Antarctic glacier melts faster than expected.
The report says that in 2020, around 267 million people, or 4% of the world’s population, lived less than two meters above sea level.
Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives and current speaker of parliament, told a meeting in Geneva that low-lying island states are now “under such stress that we may not have an island. or country “.
The report says the growing number of countries committing to achieving net zero emissions targets is encouraging, with around 63 percent of global emissions now covered by such targets.
But, he said, much more action was needed by 2030 to keep these goals achievable and credible.
Calling on all countries to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, Guterres said: “I expect all of these issues to be addressed and resolved at COP26. “
“Our future is at stake.