The clock is ticking in the fight against climate change, with a recent UN global stocktake report warning that we have a mere two years to align with the Paris accord emission targets, a goal that appears increasingly unattainable. The study, the most comprehensive to date, states that global emissions need to be nearly halved by 2030 to prevent a catastrophic temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a scenario that would trigger irreversible climate damage, devastating food supplies, causing extreme weather patterns, and rendering parts of the earth uninhabitable.
Alarm bells are ringing louder than ever, with the report highlighting that we are already significantly off track. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a Synthesis Report in March this year, summarising all the scientific reports it has published during its sixth assessment cycle. This report underscored the grave reality of our situation, reinforcing last year’s UN Climate Change report, which stated that even if all 194 Parties under the Paris Agreement fulfilled their climate pledges, the world could still be on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. The science is unequivocal: immediate and transformative action is needed to change course.
Time is Running Out: UN Reports Two Years to Meet Paris Accord Emission Targets
A recent UN global stocktake report has highlighted dire warnings surrounding climate change. The report states we have only two years left to meet the emission targets set out by the Paris accord. With transformational adaptation needed to help communities and ecosystems deal with climate impacts, the world is already off track.
A Critical Decade for Climate Action
The stocktake report is the most comprehensive of its kind to date. It emphasizes the urgency of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by halving global emissions by 2030. If this target is not met, irreversible damage to the climate could lead to severe disruption of food supplies, extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, and mass migration flows due to parts of the Earth becoming uninhabitable.
Too Little, Too Late
Despite emissions reduction in eleven leading countries, none are on track to meet their Paris obligations. Even the best performing countries need to triple or quadruple their efforts. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that after a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions have bounced back to reach new all-time highs.
Asleep at the Wheel
The report illustrates the need for sweeping changes to the global financial-industrial system, including investing trillions of dollars in global investment needs. It also suggests developed countries should reduce meat consumption by 80% due to its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. However, governments have failed to commit adequate resources to tackling the problem and the implementation of green policies remains rare.
Low Hanging Fruit
The UN report does not shy away from identifying fossil fuels as the main culprit for climate change. It calls for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, which were found to be equivalent to 7% of global GDP in 2022, according to an IMF analysis. The report argues that ending these subsidies would lead to a 34% drop in emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
The UN’s global stocktake report is a stark reminder of the urgent action required to combat climate change. Governments, industries, and individuals must all play a part in this critical mission. As countries prepare for the next UN climate summit, COP28, in Dubai, it’s clear that the stakes have never been higher. It’s time to stop being asleep at the wheel and start steering towards a sustainable future.