Greenhouse gas emissions surged to a record level last year and world temperatures could rise by more than twice the globally agreed warming limit if nothing is done, a U.N. report showed on Tuesday (November 26).
The “Emissions Gap Report” is one of several studies released ahead of U.N. climate talks in Madrid next week aimed at spurring world leaders to limit climate change.
It measures the amount of emissions cuts needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, as agreed in the key 2015 Paris Agreement.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year warned of huge global changes if that target is not met, such as the loss of nearly all coral reefs and most Arctic sea ice.
The report said the safest temperature threshold set in Paris – of 1.5C – was still achievable, but would require emissions cuts of 7.6% a year between 2020-2030. Limiting the rise to 2C it would mean annual cuts of 2.7%.
The report showed that emissions, including those from land-use change such as deforestation, had not yet peaked and rose to a record 55.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2018.
Christensen said some of those that had met their targets comfortably, such as Turkey and Russia, should tighten them significantly.
The report named the United States as one of several large emitters alongside Brazil and Japan falling short of its own targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This month, the Trump administration filed paperwork to quit the Paris Agreement in the first step of a formal withdrawal process.