Global warming set to pass 1.5 degrees Celsius as pollution plans fall short


Almost every government in the world isn’t doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, making it likely global temperatures will rise beyond the tipping point of 1.5 degrees Celsius in coming years, a new report said Wednesday.

Scientists have said keeping the planet’s warming within 1.5 C is key to staving off the worst impacts of climate change. Global emissions must be halved by 2030 to keep that target in sight, but governments are nowhere near that reduction, according to the nonprofit group Climate Action Tracker.

Collectively, governments must cut 20 billion to 23 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by the end of this decade. The U.S. and U.K. have said they want to keep alive the chance of limiting warming to 1.5 C from pre-industrial levels. But of the countries analyzed, only Gambia has set ambitious-enough policies, the report said.

“An increasing number of people around the world are suffering from ever more severe and frequent impacts of climate change, yet government action continues to lag behind what is needed,” said Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics, a CAT partner.

Under the terms of the Paris Agreement signed by 197 countries in 2015, governments agreed to develop voluntary action plans to cut emissions. But as they were insufficient at the time, nations promised to come back in 2020 with more ambitious policies.

Yet more than 70 countries still haven’t submitted updated targets — including China, the world’s biggest emitter. Also, a raft of rich and middle-income countries — including Australia, Brazil and Indonesia — have submitted new plans that don’t increase their ambitions, the group said.

While President Joe Biden updated the U.S.’s target earlier this year, it remains insufficient to keep the world on track for 1.5 C, the report said.

The U.K.’s domestic target is compatible with 1.5 C, but the government hasn’t delivered enough international climate finance to help poorer countries reduce emissions, CAT said. More than a decade ago, rich countries promised to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, but that target has been missed. The U.S. also lags behind other rich countries in that effort.

“Governments have now closed the gap by up to 15%, a minimal improvement since May,” said Niklas Hohne, of NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner organization. “Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.”

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