The clock is ticking loudly

Scientists warn that there is less and less time left to keep the world from climate catastrophe. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) has released two reports at once on the difference between what is happening in reality and the vital need of mankind. Russia Shows Unpreparedness to Abandon Fossil Fuels and the Green Energy Transition.

The difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” the UN experts call “the divide” and explore several areas of great importance for humanity at once: adaptation to climate change, national plans of countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (NDC), targets for achieving carbon neutrality.



In the annual report “The Looming Storm: Adapting to Climate Change in a Post-Pandemic World,” scientists write that keeping global temperature rise within 1.5°C is a critical threshold to avoid worse consequences for humanity. At the current economic rate, this threshold will be exceeded sooner than anticipated, and some of the effects on the climate are already irreversible.

The UNEP report shows that the implementation of adaptation measures is lagging what is needed: in 2030, the world will use about 110% more coal, oil, and gas than needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, exacerbating climate change-induced extreme weather events. According to scientists, every fraction of a degree increase in temperatures will bring with it increased waves of heat and drought, deadly floods, and wildfires.

These findings are confirmed by British scientists: according to a study by the UK Met Office, if global average temperatures rise above 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, the number of victims of the climate crisis around the world will increase by at least 15 times, and more than a billion people on the planet will suffer from catastrophic natural phenomena.

As the Adaptation Report shows, opportunities to fund climate change adaptation programs through stimulus recovery packages after COVID-19 have already been missed in many countries. By June 2021, only one-third of the countries in the UN study had directly financed climate change measures.

As a positive trend, experts say that climate change adaptation programs are increasingly becoming part of national plans. Some 79 percent of countries have included at least one adaptation mechanism in their national strategies, an increase of 7 percent since 2020.

Findings of the Emissions Gap Report, which came out under the auspices of UNEP with the title “Warming On: Climate Promises Not Yet Fulfilled”, echo the adaptation report. Scientists argue that current pledges by countries will not be able to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C this century, and the world is on a warming path of about 2.7°C.

As of the end of September 2021, 120 countries accounting for more than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions had submitted updated NDCs. These strategies cover more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions. UNEP's analysis shows that all of the countries' current plans will be fully implemented, they can keep the temperature rise within 2.2°C by the end of the century. This is lower than the 2.7°C previously outlined, but will still lead to dramatic consequences for the world.

Meanwhile, U.N. experts warn: to keep within 1.5°C would require a 55% reduction as early as 2030. That means current plans would have to be seven times the current level of ambition.

"Climate change is no longer a future problem. It's the problem of the present," says UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen, “We have eight years to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half...The clock is ticking loudly. The world must realize the imminent danger we face as a species.”

The report’s authors conclude that the plans countries have today will collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by about 7.5% more than previous promises made five years ago. But some countries, including China, the U.S., India, Russia, and Japan, which account for almost 60% of emissions, are still on the sidelines of the Paris Agreement.

The problem, experts say, is that many of the “promises of carbon neutrality” are ambiguous. Some countries are postponing their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions until after 2030. And the goal of achieving zero emissions by 2060, which China and Russia have outlined, does not correspond to the global plans to keep the climate on the planet,” the analysts say.

Despite the expectations of the UN experts who presented their studies on the eve of the COP26 Climate Summit, some countries, including Russia, have not made their climate plans more ambitious and have not approached the goal of carbon neutrality, vital for mankind. At the Glasgow conference, Russia did not join the international plans to do away with coal and ignored the agreement to reduce methane emissions, the second largest contributor to global warming. There was no mention of an energy transition involving the phase-out of all fossil fuels on behalf of the delegation. Emissions are still supposed to be reduced not by giving up coal, oil, and gas, but by “non-creative means”: capture and absorption of greenhouse gases by Russian forests.

Representatives of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union (RSoEU) note in their Statement that the steps outlined in Russia’s official position are not enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. They think it is necessary to reconsider the goal of greenhouse gas emissions reduction for 2030 and accept the goal of 60% reduction from the 1990 level without taking into account absorption by forests. Environmentalists consider a roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 to be an important component. Such a roadmap should include plans for energy efficiency and renewable energy and plans to phase out coal, reduce dependence on and phase out all fossil fuels, and phase out energy generation from combustion of solid waste, use of nuclear fuel, construction of new nuclear power plants and large dam hydroelectric.


Written by Olga Podosenova
Тип информации: