The recent UN environment agency report found that the world economies do not have any credible pathway to curtail global temperature from rising to 1.5C, which is the last safe limit of the planet. The inability to reduce carbon emissions implies that the only way to avoid the looming catastrophe is completely overhauled global societies. This report is a dire warning to all countries – none of whom are doing enough to manage the climate emergency.
This UN report analyzed the gap between CO2 cuts pledged by the countries and the cuts required to limit the increase in temperature globally to 1.5C, which is the international consensus goal. However, the progress towards these targets is woefully inadequate. Already an increase of 1C has brought about climate disasters all over the World: from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.
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Understanding the matter better
The world nations had agreed to raise their commitments to emission cuts during the Cop26 climate summit one year ago. However, with Cop27 coming up just a few days after, the new pledges will cut just 1% of global emissions by 2030. The Global emissions should have fallen nearly 50% by the time of Cop27 to maintain the 1.5C target. This report explains in scientific terms the message nature delivered throughout the year through devastating storms, floods, and violent fires. The time has come to a stop immediately saturating the environment with greenhouse gases as we were given a chance to make small-scale adjustments. Still, now that opportunity has gone, only a fundamental transformation of our economy and societies can keep us from the escalating climate catastrophe.
It is tall, and some would say impossible, to reform the global economy and halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. However, this is the only path that the world government must act. This transformation will also provide millions of people with clean air, green jobs, and electricity access. Unfortunately, global emissions are at a dangerous level and are continually increasing. We must close the emissions gap before the climate catastrophe engulfs us all.
Two other recent reports: International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UN’s climate body, also have similar conclusions that pledges of the advanced countries to curtail greenhouse emissions will lead the World to a dangerous limit of 2.5c of global heating. This level will push the World to a catastrophic climate breakdown. Despite having promised at UN climate summit Cop26 in Glasgow last year, few countries have strengthened their commitments to greenhouse reductions. IEA concluded that to limit global temperature rise to 1.5c, the world economies require deeper cuts in global carbon emission.
The required transformation of global societies can be achieved through transformed government policies especially taxing polluters and subsidizing green practices. The transition to green transport, infrastructure, and energy is underway in many advanced countries, but the need is to speed up the process. A recent finding of The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) claims that ongoing new gas and oil exploration projects in many advanced countries are incompatible with 1.5c targets. Fossil fuel giants have profited significantly due to increased post-Covid demand for their products and also following the Russian incursion into Ukraine. The industry is projected to reap $4 trillion by 2022, which boosts the need for massive windfall taxes to tackle the living costs crisis and help fund the transition to clean energy.
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Similarly, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reveals that the global food system generates almost a third of climate heating emissions, which are set to double by 2050. The world governments must transform this sector into a low-carbon food system. Food waste also contributes 10% of global pollution that must be eradicated. Individual citizens need to adopt plant-based, greener, and healthier diets. Moreover, redirecting financial flows to green economies is vital as global economic groups have shown little interest due to their short-term benefits. A transformation to a green economy requires at least $4tn-6tn investment per year, which is 2% of the global financial assets.
The UNEP’s Emission Gap Report (27-10-2022) mirrors the entire World. The climate crisis is at the tipping point, and the planet is close to catastrophe. The collective wisdom and actions from the World’s nations are now needed more than ever to avoid climate meltdown. The World is close to irreversible changes, and time is running out.
Dr. Abid Rashid Gill is the Chairman of the Economics department and Director of the Green Campus Project, IUB. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.