A United Nations analysis released Monday indicates that the current emissions pledges by countries are inadequate, setting the world on a path to a nearly 3 degrees Celsius temperature increase this century. The Emissions Gap report, which evaluates countries’ climate change commitments against necessary actions, projects global warming of between 2.5C and 2.9C above preindustrial levels if governments do not enhance their climate efforts.
Scientists warn that a 3C warming could trigger catastrophic events, including the irreversible melting of ice sheets and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the situation as a race towards a “dead-end 3C temperature rise,” calling the emissions gap an “emissions canyon.”
The upcoming U.N. climate summit COP28 in Dubai aims to maintain the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5C. However, the U.N. report finds that to achieve this target, greenhouse gas emissions must decrease by 42% by 2030. Despite this, the likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5C is now just 14%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.2% from 2021 to 2022, reaching a record high. The report assessed countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and found that unconditional pledges could lead to a 2.9C rise, while conditional pledges could limit warming to 2.5C. This projection is slightly higher than the 2022 report due to the inclusion of more climate models. However, there has been progress since the 2015 Paris Agreement, with current warming projections significantly lower than those based on emissions at that time.