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Paris agreement could be compromised by 2030

With the Paris Agreement coming into force today, the United Nations (UN) has said greenhouse gas emissions will exceed that which is needed to keep global warming in check by 2030.

Emissions in 2030 are expected to reach 54–56 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, far above the level of 42 billion tonnes needed to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The figures were announced in the annual report of the ‘United Nations Environment Programme’ (UNEP) which analysed countries’ current pledges for emission cuts and said they were not sufficient.

Even if the pledges on cutting emissions under the Paris agreement are fully implemented, predicted 2030 emissions could put the world on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, the report said.

However, UNEP’s chief scientist, Jacqueline McGlade said that the gap could “absolutely” be filled as more countries submit their emissions data; global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and industry are slowing; renewable energy use has risen and public scrutiny of governments’ actions has grown.

In addition, the Paris Agreement was originally set to come into force by 2020, but many signatories ratified the agreement significantly earlier than anticipated

For the Agreement to come into effect, it needed to be ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of the world’s emissions.

Delegates from signatory nations will meet in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh next week to start turning their many promises on tackling climate change into action and draw up a ‘rule book’ for the accord which was reached last December.

The Paris Agreement promises to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, with an ambition of limiting temperature rises even further to 1.5 degrees.

For a 50 percent chance of meeting the 1.5 degree goal, emissions should not be more than 39 billion tonnes in 2030, which leaves an even bigger emissions gap of 15–17 billion tonnes, the report said.

Therefore, countries need to make bigger emissions cuts after, but preferably also before, 2020 and there needs to be lower emissions levels in 2030 than previously thought.

If that does not happen, there will be more reliance on negative emission technologies in the second half of the century which permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, such as combining bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which is not deployable on a commercial scale.

“If we don’t start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy,” Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, said in a statement.

“The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver. The science shows that we need to move much faster,” Solheim added.

The latest State Of The Climate report, released in August by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed that dozens of climate records were broken in 2015. 

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