Current pledges not enough to stop global warming: UN report

Pedestrians walk through an overpass as commuters drive on a road below in Beijing amid heavy smog, on October 8, 2014
Pedestrians walk through an overpass as commuters drive on a road below in Beijing amid heavy smog, on October 8, 2014

Pollution is still rising despite world pledges to cut carbon emissions, and more action is needed to rein in climate change in the coming years, a UN report said Wednesday.

The Emissions Gap report is the fifth yearly analysis that examines how countries are doing and lays out the path toward keeping the average rise in global temperature below 2° Celsius over the next century.

The report by the UN Environment Program and the World Resources Institute said the planet must aim for global carbon neutrality by mid-to-late century to head off the worst effects of climate change.

"There is still a significant gap between where emissions are going and where they need to be by 2030 if we're going to limit warming to less than 2 degrees (Celsius)," said Taryn Fransen, project director of the Open Climate Network at the World Resources Institute.

"This report is telling us that we are pointing in the wrong direction—and time is running out for us to get back on track."

The emissions gap is defined as the difference between global carbon levels needed to stay within the two-degree Celsius target and the emission levels expected if countries stick to their pledges.

In the immediate future, the report said global emissions must stay below 44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2020 to stay on target.

But the range of expected global emissions, or midpoint estimates based on national pledges, is 52–54 Gt CO2e in 2020.

The gap in 2020 is 8–10 Gt CO2e, the same magnitude as given in the 2013 report.

'Worsening trend'

"Consistent with the findings of the 2014 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, our analysis reveals a worrisome worsening trend," said the report.

Emissions spew out of a large stack at a coal fired electric generating plant, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland
Emissions spew out of a large stack at a coal fired electric generating plant, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland

"Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to an even warmer climate and exacerbate the devastating effects of climate change."

The report calls for global emissions to peak in the next 10 years before beginning to decline by 2030, as more forests are planted to absorb carbon, and more economies pursue cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels.

To avoid the devastating effects that a hotter planet may bring in terms of food shortages, job loss and storm damage, the report calls for "global carbon neutrality"—or a net zero of human-caused C02 emissions—by sometime between 2055 and 2070.

Then, global greenhouse gas emissions should be at least 50 per cent lower by 2050, said the report.

After that, total global greenhouse gas emissions—not just carbon—need to shrink to net zero sometime between 2080 and 2100.

Nations' pledges

More than 90 countries have made voluntary pledges and commitments to cut emissions.

A view of wind turbines installed in Calama, north of Santiago, Chile, on November 13, 2014 as part of a renewable energy projec
A view of wind turbines installed in Calama, north of Santiago, Chile, on November 13, 2014 as part of a renewable energy project seeking to diversify the country's energy reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Five countries that are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – Brazil, China, the European Union 28, India and the Russian Federation -– are on track to meet their pledges, the report said.

Australia, Canada, Mexico and the United States "are likely to require further action and/or purchased offsets to meet their pledges" for 2020, it said.

The report did not draw conclusions for Japan, South Korea, Indonesia or South Africa "because of various uncertainties, nor for Argentina, Turkey and Saudi Arabia because they have not proposed pledges."

The report praised national policies for promoting more efficient use of energy in buildings, which are in effect in about half of the countries in the world.

Other key steps are promoting renewable energy, reducing transport demand, engaging in sustainable agriculture and cutting industrial pollution.

About $310-360 billion dollars in public and private investment were spent on energy efficiency in 2012, and $244 billion spent on renewable energy, the report said, describing this funding as "significant."

Further actions could include ending fossil fuel subsidies and raising fuel prices "so that they incorporate the costs of climate change and other environmental damages."


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Global warming targets further out of reach, UN says

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Citation: Current pledges not enough to stop global warming: UN report (2014, November 19) retrieved 14 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-11-current-pledges-global.html
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Nov 19, 2014
Freeman Dyson vs. UN?

HA! No contest.

"The polar bears will be fine."

Nov 19, 2014
"The polar bears will be fine."
@shooty-TROLL
apparently you have been ignoring the science again

try reading the SCIENCE and not the blogs
http://www.esajou...4-1129.1
from the article: http://phys.org/n...ion.html

or try reading the data from this link: http://glims.colo...ierdata/
from the article here: http://phys.org/n...firstCmt

epic failure of shooty
shootist = TROLL


Nov 19, 2014
The news is even worse than what's indicated here. Because of overly rosy assumptions, the IPCC has consistently under estimated the timing and scale of climate change impacts. We need to radically reduce emissions now - the carbon budget was blown in the decades we spent arguing about it.

It's time our governments start acting in the best interests of their citizens, or there simply won't be a government. In fact, there wont be much of anything left at all.

Nov 19, 2014
It's time our governments start acting in the best interests of their citizens, or there simply won't be a government.


Is it a theorem? Or a threat?

Nov 19, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 20, 2014
"The polar bears will be fine."

You keep quoting this, so I looked for the context. I read it was a remark to his wife in 2006. No indication whether Dyson knew anything about polar bear populations then, or whether he has checked any relevant data since. Is this the most authoritative statement you can find?

RWT
Nov 20, 2014
This website is full of the devoted. Each year brings us about 0.1 degrees further from what the IPCC models predict. In just a few years they will be deemed to be incorrect with 100% certainty. These people are in denial if they still think their projections of gloom and doom are anywhere near realistic.

Nov 20, 2014
This website is full of the devoted. Each year brings us about 0.1 degrees further from what the IPCC models predict. In just a few years they will be deemed to be incorrect with 100% certainty. These people are in denial if they still think their projections of gloom and doom are anywhere near realistic.


Only if, as denialist simpletons do, you think that global temps would always rise at the same rate.
Anyone with even a modicum of climate knowledge, nay, common sense, would twig that it does not and moreover cannot.
FFS

Nov 20, 2014
The alarmists are just scaring the choir. Themselves.

Nov 21, 2014
It's time our governments start acting in the best interests of their citizens, or there simply won't be a government.
Is it a theorem? Or a threat?

Legitimate question, but I am surprised it comes from you. It sounds like a libertarian sentiment. Several times I have seen libertarians quote Jefferson as saying "The tree of Liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants", usually when opposing gun control. I thought you were libertarian, and broadly agreed with that idea. Did I get that wrong?

cjn
Nov 21, 2014
Sigh:
It's time our governments start acting in the best interests of their citizens, or there simply won't be a government.
Is it a theorem? Or a threat?

Legitimate question, but I am surprised it comes from you. It sounds like a libertarian sentiment. Several times I have seen libertarians quote Jefferson as saying "The tree of Liberty needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants", usually when opposing gun control. I thought you were libertarian, and broadly agreed with that idea. Did I get that wrong?


"Government acting in the best interests of their citizens" is generally a euphemism for greater government control and regulation -as the implication is that the citizens don't know whats best for themselves. This is an anti-Libertarian approach. The consequence mentioned isn't so much a coup which changes the government, but a lack of government as a result of rampant climate change effects.

Nov 21, 2014
Time to heavily tax pollution. The money-men understand that. They might not understand biology or sustainability or environmentalism, but money is the Universe to them.

Nov 21, 2014
Heavy taxes on pollution can be used to pay for the health care needed by those downwind.

Nov 22, 2014
Nothing man does, within reason, will stop or curtail climate change. The climate has been changing since the atmosphere formed ~4.4 billion years ago.

Within reason, I said. Orbital mirrors and sunshades or 20,000 simultaneous fusion bomb detonations excepted.

Nov 22, 2014
"Nothing man does, within reason, will stop or curtail climate change."

Since it was easy for man to speed up climate change and cause global warming, why are you saying that nothing man does, within reason, will stop or curtail climate change? Do you have any evidence that it's much, much, much more difficult to fix things than it was to cause the problems in the first place? As far as I can tell, all studies say otherwise.

Nov 22, 2014
You keep quoting this, so I looked for the context. I read it was a remark to his wife in 2006. No indication whether Dyson knew anything about polar bear populations then, or whether he has checked any relevant data since. Is this the most authoritative statement you can find?

Actually, it comes from an interview he gave, back about 2009 as I recall. Here's a link to it, if you're interested: http://e360.yale....?id=2151

Shootist has only one argument to make with regards to global warming - If Dyson doesn't understand it, then it must be wrong. He is wrong about the polar bears, at least as they currently exist, and a new study makes the case stronger than ever: https://ca.news.y...109.html

And another, older one that takes a very balanced view:
http://www.canadi...ears.asp

The polar bears are definitely NOT going to be fine.

Nov 22, 2014
Dyson was a fan of nuclear weapons.

Not very smart.

Nov 22, 2014
@cjn
"Government acting in the best interests of their citizens" is generally a euphemism for greater government control and regulation -as the implication is that the citizens don't know whats best for themselves.
Problem is, sometimes we don't. I've even heard people who run corporations say things like, "Well, we wouldn't do that if no one else could." They are required not only to attempt to generate a profit, but to do anything they can to maximize it, and they can be sued by their shareholders if they don't. Not only does this force those who are ethical to act unethically, it gives the unethical an excuse.

This is an anti-Libertarian approach.
Yes, but it's not an anti-libertarian approach. The power of money must be restrained as much as the power of political power. Just about the whole Bill of Rights is about what government MAY NOT do. The Libertarians are not libertarians.

I agreed with your last paragraph.

Nov 22, 2014
I see this UN report as being a warning that we're merely making a dent in the increase of emissions, not decreasing them, and that's true. However, that isn't an excuse for doing nothing; we do all we can now, and later we try to do more. Giving up is failure, and failure will mean the deaths of billions. They're not going to go gentle into that good night. They will fight with every weapon at their disposal to get what they need to live. We should foresee this and do what we must to ensure they're not up against that wall.

Nov 24, 2014
"Current pledges not enough to stop global warming: UN report"

Something has already stopped global warming, since 1996. In 1996 average CO2 was 362 ppm, up from the long-term average of 280 ppm (noted in 1850). During the period 1850-1996 temperatures increased about 1.25 F.

Since 1996 CO2 has gone up to about 399 ppm today (end of 2014), an increase of 45% over the CO2 change 1850-1996. Yet that large increase in CO2 since 1996 has produced no net warming over those 18 years.

The theory of global warming has failed, despite the very significant increase in CO2 since 1996.

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