A new UN report suggests nations will need to triple their current emissions reduction efforts in order to keep global warming contained to the 2 degrees Celsius that scientists say will limit the worst effects of climate change, according to a report from The Guardian.
“There is still a tremendous gap between words and deeds, between the targets agreed by governments and the measures to achieve these goals. Only a rapid turnaround here can help. Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 and for 1.5C [the aspirational goal set by the Paris agreement] emissions would have to be halved,” said Gunnar Luderer, a senior scientist at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an author of the new UN report.
The authors say governments will need to implement taxes on fossil fuels, invest in clean energy, and strengthen existing measures in order to meet the targets set by the Paris climate accord.
They note that the longer-term trend of increasing emissions has continued, but praised successes in areas such as private sector investment in clean energy. Only 57 nations are set to see their emissions peak in the 2030s before declining. If global emissions continue to rise beyond this point, scientists say warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius will be inevitable.
Another UN report last month, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that even half a degree over 1.5 degrees of warming would lead to severe extreme weather, such as drought, floods, and heat, along with a massive economic impact that would exacerbate poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
Earlier this week, a landmark UK climate review projected increased flooding and summers up to 5 degrees warmer within 50 years.
Next month, Poland will host discussions by governments of how to meet commitments made as part of the Paris agreement three years ago.
Many of the necessary changes are quite practical, with political obstacles representing the main challenge, according to UN Environment chief scientist Jian Lu.
“When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidize low-carbon alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions. If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10% by 2030,” he said.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump said he does not believe his own administration’s climate report which projected thousands of lives lost and hundreds of billions in economic losses as a result of climate change by the end of the century.