Friday 24 March 2017

Current pledges 'not sufficient' to avoid catastrophic climate change

A snow leopard and one of her cubs may be especially vulnerable in the future as more than a third of the big cat's mountain habitat could become uninhabitable because of climate change, conservationists have warned
A snow leopard and one of her cubs may be especially vulnerable in the future as more than a third of the big cat's mountain habitat could become uninhabitable because of climate change, conservationists have warned
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Government pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not enough to keep average global temperature rises below 2C, the limit needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

An analysis of climate ­ action-plans submitted to the UN shows that while they will "dramatically slow" carbon emissions, they will result in ­rises of 2.7C beyond pre-­industrial levels.

The submissions ­represent around 86pc of global ­emissions, and have been ­submitted by 146 countries. ­Ireland's emissions are ­included in a statement from the ­European ­Commission.

The analysis comes in ­advance of climate change talks in Paris in December where more than 190 nations will ­gather at the so-called ­Conference of the Parties to strike a global deal on climate change.

Clarity

The UN said that while total emissions will continue to grow, it will be at a slower rate that in the past decades.

Despite the lack of ­clarity around meeting the 2C ­limit, the UN said the national ­climate plans - called ­Intended ­Nationally Determined ­Contributions (INDCs) - set a "foundation" for achieving greater reductions.

An "unprecedented world-wide effort" was underway to combat climate change, it said, and the measures outlined by governments could "dramatically slow global emissions into the atmosphere".

"These INDCs represent a clear and determined down-­payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community of nations," Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, said.

"Fully implemented, these plans together begin to make a significant dent in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

"I am confident that these INDCs are not the final word in what countries are ready to do and achieve over time."

Scientists believe that if ­temperature rises exceed 2C, it will result in dangerous climate impacts which will especially hit the world's poor.

Ireland will not escape. ­Experts believe that more ­extreme weather events, coupled with droughts in summer, will arise unless global emissions are reduced.

This will result in a repeat of the storms which devastated large parts of the country last winter, flooding and pressure on infrastructure, including roads and rail.

The World Resources ­Institute said that submissions were stronger than every before, and there was more cooperation on climate change.

"The Paris agreement has not yet been sealed, but is already raising our sights about what's possible," it said.

"Despite the unprecedented level of effort, this report finds that current commitments are not yet sufficient to meet what the world needs. Countries must accelerate their efforts after the Paris summit in order to stave off climate change."

A key finding is that the ­INDCs will bring global average emissions per capita down by as much as 8pc in 2025, and 9pc by 2030.

But it warns that as much as a quarter of emissions are conditional upon rich countries offering financial support to developing nations.

The 146 plans include all developed nations and 75pc of developing nations which are part of the UNFCCC. They cover 86pc of global greenhouse gas emissions - almost four times the level of the first ­commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which was the world's first international emission reduction treaty.

The reductions will be achieved by a range of actions across various sectors, but primarily by switching to renewable energy including wind and solar, improving energy efficiency, improved land management, urban planning and transport.

A UN report to be published next month will underline the emissions reduction potential and economic benefits which are possible from best practise climate policies.

Irish Independent

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