UN: Greenhouse Gas Cuts Needed to Prevent Climate Catastrophe

GENEVA – A U.N. report warns the window for preventing a climate catastrophe is fast closing. The U.N. Environment Program’s latest Emissions Gap Report urges unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and a rapid transformation of societies to head off the worst.

The U.N. report finds the world is falling far short of the Paris climate goals agreement, with no credible pathway for limiting a temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said progress since last year’s climate change conference, COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, has been woefully inadequate. She said nations have failed to deliver on their pledges for greater emissions cuts.

She noted greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45 percent by 2030 to stop climate change. However, instead of stabilizing global temperatures at 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial level, she said temperatures will likely rise 2.4 to 2.6 degrees by 2100.

“We are sliding from climate crisis to climate disaster. This report is sending us a very, very clear message. If we are serious about climate change, we need to kickstart a system-wide transformation now. We need a root and branch redesign of the electricity sector, of the transport sector, of the building sector, and food systems.”

Additionally, she said financial systems must be reformed so they can bankroll the required transformations. She says incremental changes no longer are an option. Bold action must be taken now.

Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization Peterri Talaas called the transformational changes doable. He noted the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, earlier this year reported that prices of climate-friendly energy solutions have been dropping.

“Nowadays, it is cheaper to invest in solar or wind energy as compared to the fossil energy. And the good news is also that 32 countries have reduced their emissions during the past 15 years, whereas their economies have been growing. So, there is not an automatic connection between economic growth and emissions growth.”

He mentioned European countries, the United States, Japan, and Singapore as some of the countries that have managed to grow their economies while reducing emissions.

Environmental experts estimate a global transformation to a low-emissions economy is expected to require investments of at least $4 trillion to $6 trillion a year. They are urging nations attending next week’s COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to agree to foot the bill and to up their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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