As COP27 winds down goal of limiting global temperature to 1.5 degrees C seems unattainable

Mayank Chhaya-

Mayank Chayya

As the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP27 enters its final stretch, the much-talked-about goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century seems unattainable.

A new report from UN Climate Change shows that while countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, their efforts remain insufficient.

According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

“Today’s report also shows current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over last year’s assessment, which found countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels,” the report said.

“Last year’s analysis showed projected emissions would continue to increase beyond 2030. However, this year’s analysis shows that while emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend science says is necessary this decade,” it said.

“The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 report indicated that CO2 emissions needed to be cut 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. The latest science from the IPCC released earlier this year uses 2019 as a baseline, indicating that GHG emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030. This is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, including more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves and rainfall,” the report said.

As the COP27 winds down on November 18, there is nothing much to suggest that overall the internationally community, especially the West which shares most blame for engulfing the planet in greenhouse gases causing the climate catastrophes, is still stirred up enough. There has been some progress, of course, but given the pace of the climate warming and its many consequences, the world is not doing anywhere close to enough.

An official U.N. release quoted Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, as saying, “The downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year. But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”

UN Climate Change analyzed the climate action plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – of 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including 24 updated or new NDCs submitted after the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26) up until 23 September 2022. Taken together, the plans cover 94.9% of total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

“At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year, all countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their climate plans,” said Stiell. “The fact that only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted since COP 26 is disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”

One of the key issues has been that of funding poorer and smaller countries which bear the brunt of the climate crisis without their having caused it. In that context, eight donor governments have pledged new funding for the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).

Announcing a total of $105.6 million in new funding, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Walloon Region of Belgium, called for even more support for the Global Environment Facility funds targeting the immediate climate adaptation needs of low-lying and low-income states.

“Additionally, countries including Belgium, Canada, France, and the United States, as well the European Commission, signaled political support for the two funds, and some expressed an intention to contribute further in the coming months. Several welcomed the SCCF’s dedicated focus on Small Island Developing States as a key avenue of climate finance that is otherwise lacking,” an official release said.

According to the release the new pledges add to $413 million that 12 donor countries pledged to the LDCF at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

“I am encouraged by these specific pledges announced today and especially by the signals of political support we are hearing for the adaptation priorities of Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, which manages the LDCF and SCCF. “The GEF is committed to enabling these highly climate-vulnerable countries plan for a safe and sustainable future even in crisis conditions. The LDCF and SCCF are designed to do just that, and this new funding will help ensure climate finance gets to where it is most needed first.”

Stiell of UN Climate Change said, “Adaptation funding for the poorest and most vulnerable nations is not an expense, it is an investment in the safety and well-being of millions of people. I am heartened by these contributions, which send an important signal that leading governments recognize the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis and the importance of supporting countries on the front lines of climate change.”

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