‘Much more needed’ to achieve Paris climate goals: UN report

UN says world is not on track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, including capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

China power plants
Street cleaners ride their motorised tricycles past the chimneys of a power station located on the outskirts of Beijing [File: David Gray/Reuters]

The world is dangerously off course in meeting the Paris climate deal’s goals for reducing carbon pollution and boosting finance for the developing world, according to the UN’s first Global Stocktake of progress on the treaty.

The 2015 Paris Agreement has successfully driven climate action, but “much more is needed now on all fronts”, said the report published on Friday, which will underpin a crucial climate summit in Dubai at the end of the year.

“Against forecasts made prior to its adoption, the Paris Agreement has led to contributions that significantly reduce forecasts of future warming,” the report noted.

“Yet the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.”

According to the report, there was a “rapidly narrowing window” to implement existing commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, as highlighted in the 2015 treaty.

Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and drop sharply thereafter to keep the 1.5C target in view, the stocktake said, drawing from a scientific assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Achieving net zero carbon emissions by mid-century, another Paris Agreement goal – will require “radical decarbonisation”, the report said, including phasing out the burning of all fossil fuels whose emissions cannot be captured.

How quickly to purge the global economy of oil, gas and coal will be hotly contested at the 196-nation two-week COP28 talks, which take place in Dubai starting in late November.

The stocktake also says that clean power must be dramatically ramped up, according to the first UN scorecard of the world’s progress in meeting Paris Agreement climate goals.

“Scaling up renewable energy and phasing out all unabated fossil fuels are indispensable elements of just energy transitions to net zero emissions,” it said.

“Unabated” refers to the absence of any technology that removes carbon emissions, either at the source or from the atmosphere.

G20’s burden

Separately on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said leaders of the G20 nations have the power to reset a climate crisis that is “spinning out of control”.

“The climate crisis is worsening dramatically – but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency,” Guterres said in the Indian capital New Delhi, which is chairing the G20 summit this weekend.

“The climate crisis is spiralling out of control. But G20 countries are in control.”

“Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions. Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown,” he said.

China, the United States, the European Union and India alone contribute more than half of total emissions.

The stocktake also highlighted the need to rapidly and radically scale up financial support to developing nations so they can adapt to climate-amplified weather disasters that are already eating away at their economies.

Many African nations, already mired in debt, are struggling to transition away from fossil fuels even as their coffers are drained by worsening droughts, floods, heatwaves and storms.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies