Tuesday 20 February 2018

Government pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not enough to prevent catastrophic climate change

There's a long road ahead to cut greenhouse gas emissions
There's a long road ahead to cut greenhouse gas emissions
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 per-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.

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.”

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.”

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