EDITORIAL: New UN report says time is running out for stop climate change

by | Dec 3, 2019 | Editorial

ETC Staff

If there isn’t any drastic change, Earth is headed toward a record high temperature warming of 3.2 C by 2100. And that would have devastating results for the planet, and life on it.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its annual Emissions Gap Report on Nov. 26, a 168-page report where 57 leading scientists from 25 countries want governments to act immediately by having plans for the next decade to limit global warming to 1.5 C or 2 C.

The Emissions Gap Report finds greenhouse gas emissions have risen to 1.5 per cent per year over the last decade. Emissions in 2018 hit a new high of 55.3 gigatons.

“By now, we know all we need to know. The science is pretty clear, and very frightening,” said Anne Olhoff, head of Strategy, Climate Planning and Policy with the UNEP-Technical University of Denmark Partnership.

Members of Extinction Rebellion group stage a protest outside the venue of the U.N. climate change conference (COP25), in Madrid, Spain, December 2, 2019. (REUTERS/Juan Medina)

The report shows studies of both the current state of greenhouse gas emissions and estimated future emissions. In the last decade, greenhouse gas emissions increased 1.5 per cent.

The United Nations said there’s a chance we could lose most, maybe even all, of the coral reefs and most Arctic sea ice if the average temperature goes higher than 1.5 C.

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions over seven per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”

She added if we don’t reach the 1.5 C goal in the next decade, then it will be out of reach by 2030.

We have to cut the estimated 3.2 C by any means necessary.

But how do we do that?

According to the UN report, the planet has to get back to the 1.5 C goal. GHG has to go down at least by 7.6 per cent every year to remove 32 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

To save the earth, it’s going to cost a lot of money.

According to the UNEP report, climate policies of the 1.5 C goal could cost up to $3.6 trillion per year globally.

G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but only five members have committed to a long-term zero emissions target.

To deliver on these cuts, the levels of nationally determined contributions (NDC) must increase to reach the 1.5 C goal within the time limit.

Even though this or any other UN climate change report focus on the negative, there is some positivity with this issue.

Countries committed to the Paris Agreement and NDCs are set to meet in Madrid on Dec. 2 for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25). They will also meet in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2020 to examine NDC efforts.

“We’re seriously behind on this,” said Gabriel Filippelli, a professor at the Purdue School of Science in Indianapolis, Ind. “It’s all doable but every month that we don’t have aggressive action, we fall, frankly, four months behind.

Countries cannot wait that long; something needs to happen right away or else the 3.2 C warming might come faster than predicted.