The world is not on target to curb global warming and more action is needed on all fronts, the United Nations warned on Friday, in the run-up to crucial international talks aimed at stemming the growing climate crisis.
The Global Stocktake report, the latest warning from the U.N. about environmental perils, will form the basis of the COP28 talks in Dubai at the end of the year and follows months of terrifying wildfires and soaring temperatures.
The UN report, culminating a two-year evaluation of the 2015 Paris climate agreement goals, distils thousands of submissions from experts, governments and campaigners.
“The Paris Agreement has driven near-universal climate action by setting goals and sending signals to the world regarding the urgency of responding to the climate crisis,” it said. “While action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts.”
The UN report also calls on governments to scale up renewable energy and phase out all “unabated” fossil fuels, adding both are “indispensible” for a clean energy transition.
Nearly 200 countries agreed in 2015 Paris to limit warming to no more than 2 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to strive to keep the increase to 1.5 C.
While each country is responsible for deciding its own climate actions, they also agreed to submit to a progress report by 2023 to see what more should be done. More than 130 countries sent their submissions.
The U.N. said existing national pledges to cut emissions were insufficient to keep temperatures within the 1.5 C threshold. More than 20 gigatonnes of further CO2 reductions were needed this decade – and global net zero by 2050 – in order to meet the goals, the U.N. assessment said.
Bold to-do list
The report urged countries to cut the use of “unabated” coal power by 67-92% by 2030, compared to 2019, and to virtually eliminate it as a source of electricity by 2050.
Low and zero-carbon electricity should account for as much as 99% of the global total by mid-century, and technological challenges holding back carbon capture must be resolved.
The report also called for funding to be unlocked to support low-carbon development, noting that billions of dollars were still being invested in fossil fuels.
“It serves up a bold to-do list for governments to limit warming to 1.5C and protect people everywhere from climate devastation,” said Tom Evans, policy advisor on climate diplomacy at British climate think tank E3G.
Commitment was needed to phase out fossil fuels, set 2030 targets for renewable energy expansion, ensure the financial system funds climate action, and raise funds for adaptation and damage, he said.
“Anything less will fall short on the necessary steps laid out in this report.”
Sultan Al Jaber, who will preside over the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 summit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Reuters the stocktake gave good direction, and urged states and private sector leader to come to COP28 with real commitments.
“To keep 1.5 within reach we must act with ‘ambition and urgency’ to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030,” Al Jaber said in a statement.
UN Climate Change chief, Simon Stiell, urged governments to “carefully study the findings of the report and ultimately understand what it means for them and the ambitious action they must take next.”
On Friday, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres told G20 bloc leaders that they have the power to reset a climate crisis that is “spinning out of control”.