Climate goals are not on track
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern on Monday that the world is not on track to meet several urgent goals in the fight against climate change.
“Based on current commitments from member states, the world is on a catastrophic 2.7 degree track [Celsius] heating, instead of 1.5, we all agreed that should be the limit, ”Guterres told reporters. “Science tells us that anything over 1.5 degrees would be a disaster. ”
To reach 1.5 degrees, the UN says the richest countries must invest $ 100 billion a year by 2025.
Greenhouse gas emissions must also be cut by almost half by 2030 to enable countries to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes the difficult task of getting countries to phase out use of polluting coal-fired power stations.
“Where I think there’s still a long way to go is when it comes to reducing emissions,” Guterres said.
Almost 80% of emissions come from G-20 countries.
In November, nations will meet in Glasgow, Scotland for a key climate conference to review progress on commitments since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
On Monday, Guterres co-hosted with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a small meeting of key countries for one of the final gatherings ahead of the conference. Guterres and Johnson have both warned that the review conference, known as COP26, cannot fail and that ambitious commitments are needed.
“I think Glasgow – COP26 – is a turning point for the world,” Johnson told reporters. “This is a time when we need to grow up and take responsibility.”
The UN says half of the $ 100 billion annually in public climate finance must go to adaptation efforts in developing countries.
Guterres expressed concern that progress in this regard has not been sufficient. Although he did signal some moves, including new commitments from Sweden and Denmark on Monday.
“I think that 50% could gain ground, but we are not there yet,” he said.
“It is the developing world that is bearing the brunt of catastrophic climate change in the form of hurricanes, fires and floods, as well as the real long-term economic damage they face,” Johnson said. . “And yet it is the developed world that for over 200 years has put carbon in the atmosphere that is causing this acceleration in climate change. And so it’s really up to us to help them.”
Climate action activists say spending the money isn’t holding back accelerated progress.
“The pandemic has shown that countries can quickly mobilize trillions of dollars to respond to an emergency – it is clearly a matter of political will,” said Nafkote Dabi, Global Climate Policy Officer, Oxfam International. “Let’s be clear, we are in a climate emergency. It is wreaking havoc around the world and requires the same determination and the same urgency.”