“Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms, and pollution.”
An alarming United Nations report released Tuesday said global temperatures are on track to rise as much as 3.2°C by the end of the century, meaning only drastic and unprecedented emissions reductions can stave off the most devastating consequences of the climate crisis.
The annual Emissions Gap report (pdf) from the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) warns that nations’ commitments under the Paris climate accord—from which U.S. President Donald Trump began formally withdrawing this month—are not nearly sufficient to bring about the widespread changes needed to avert climate catastrophe.
“It is evident that incremental changes will not be enough and there is a need for rapid and transformational action,” the report states. “By necessity, this will see profound change in how energy, food, and other material-intensive services are demanded and provided by governments, businesses, and markets.”
According to the report, produced by an international team of leading scientists and researchers, greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling 7.6 percent annually by 2020 to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C by 2030.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,” Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director, said in a statement. “This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They—and every city, region, business, and individual—need to act now.”
Anderson added that only “major transformations of economies and societies” will be enough.
“We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” Anderson said. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”
To world leaders we say: it is time to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry immediately. Not a single new mine can be dug, not another pipeline built, not one more well dropped into the ocean.”
—May Boeve, 350.org