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Breaching 1.5°C

Breaching 1.5°C 23 March 2021

We are nowhere near keeping warming below 1.5°C despite climate plans

Adam Vaughan via New Scientist

The world is wildly off track meeting the Paris Agreement goal of holding temperature rises to 1.5°C, despite a recent series of more ambitious national climate plans by the European Union, the UK and other countries, a United Nations assessment has found.

While new carbon–cutting proposals will bend the curve of global emissions, they are still nowhere near the cuts required to stave off the devastating consequences of breaching the 1.5°C threshold.

A UN analysis of plans from 74 countries, accounting for almost a third of global emissions, found they would reduce those nations’ emissions by 0.5 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that global emissions must fall by about 45 per cent by 2030 to stand a chance of staying below 1.5°C.

“With everything countries have put on the table, emissions would be stable as opposed to cut in half. That’s a huge gap. All countries need to go back and see if they can do more,” says Niklas Höhne at the non–profit Climate Action Tracker.

“The orders of magnitude are completely wrong. It’s a super small change so far. If we continue along this path, then I think 1.5°C is no longer reachable by 2030,” he says.

In a statement, Patricia Espinosa at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which conducted the analysis, said the pledges to date leave the world “very far” from a path to the Paris goals. She also called on countries that have already submitted a new plan to come up with more ambitious ones.

The UN assessment, published on 26 February, paints a bleak picture of the world’s prospects for stopping dangerous levels of warming. Under the Paris accord in 2015, all countries were expected to “ratchet up” their emissions plans in 2020 with new ones, but in many cases that hasn’t happened. Several countries, including Australia, Japan and South Korea, submitted new plans with no extra ambitions than in 2015.

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