Nobody wants these records: According to a UN report, emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases reached a peak last year. The development endangers the Paris climate goals.
The emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases reached a record in 2022. According to a report published on Monday by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), global greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.2 percent to 57.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2021 to 2022.
In view of the developments, the commitments made so far to the Paris Climate Agreement are no longer sufficient, according to the report. Even if they are adhered to, the world is heading for a temperature increase of between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees Celsius this century compared to pre-industrial times, it said.
Climate goals at risk
In view of this development, UNEP boss Inger Andersen called for greater efforts, especially from industrialized countries, two weeks before the COP 28 world climate conference. “Humanity is breaking all false records when it comes to climate change,” said Andersen at the launch of the UNEP report on the so-called emissions gap. This is about the difference between the mathematically permitted emissions for the climate goals and the actual emissions of CO2 and other comparable greenhouse gases.
In the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the international community agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius in order to avert the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. To achieve this, only a limited amount of climate-damaging greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) is allowed to enter the earth’s atmosphere. Most of these are released when the fuels oil, natural gas and coal are burned. However, experts do not consider the measures planned by the states so far to be anywhere near ambitious enough.
The possibility of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement depends largely on increased measures this decade, emphasized the UNEP boss. The emissions forecast for 2030 would have to be reduced by at least 28 to 42 percent compared to the currently planned scenarios in order to achieve the agreed targets of 2 and 1.5 degrees respectively.
UN Secretary General wants “explosion of ambitions”
In New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of a “fraud on vulnerable states” in view of the report on global warming. In particular, the leadership of developed countries must drastically increase their commitment to combating global warming at the upcoming climate conference, he warned. He called for an “explosion of ambition.”
This is also necessary in view of the global warming that has already been established. In September of this year, according to UNEP boss Andersen, temperatures worldwide were an average of 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times. It is almost certain that 2023 will be the warmest year recorded so far.
Just a few weeks ago, Andersen pointed out the financing gaps in adaptation measures to climate change, especially in the global south. The new report once again called for the responsibility of the industrialized nations, which have a particularly high share of the increase in emissions.
Global cooperation required
“We have reached the superlative of urgency,” said WWF climate chief Viviane Raddatz, commenting on the UN report. The warnings should finally be reflected in results at the climate conference in Dubai at the latest. “Because of all the warning signs, the international community no longer seems to be able to see the warning: Without a rapid reduction in emissions – including by phasing out all fossil fuels – it will not be possible to limit global warming to as little as 1.5 degrees.”
“No state alone can solve the climate crisis; it requires global cooperation,” emphasized Welthungerhilfe. This also includes the industrialized countries providing the $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2025 that they promised in 2015.
The share of the rich in global warming
A report from the development organization Oxfam, also presented on Monday, further illustrates the inequality in causing global warming: in 2019, the richest percent of the world’s population caused as many climate-damaging greenhouse gases as the five billion people who make up the poorer two-thirds, the report said. The greenhouse gas emissions of people with private income and assets are increasing. The reasons include more frequent air travel, larger houses and overall more climate-damaging consumption – in extreme cases in the form of luxury villas, mega yachts and private jets.
According to the report, the richest ten percent of the world’s population were responsible for around half of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Around 53 percent of Germans belong to this ten percent.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.