Pledges to stop greenhouse gas emissions are now far from stopping the worst ravages of climate change in the years to come, a new report says on Wednesday, as world leaders prepare to haggle over what to do next and who will pay them.
Even if countries meet their commitments – still a very big one if – it will only reduce fossil fuel emissions by 40% by 2050, noted the International Energy Agency (IEA).
That means an increase in temperature of about 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 – a figure the United Nations recently said would be “catastrophic” for the planet and all of its inhabitants.
Will Steffen, a climate expert at Australian National University, said the IEA report makes it clear that the current target of “net zero emissions” by 2050 – as many countries have committed to. – is just too small, too late.
“We now have to move very quickly and decisively towards renewable energies. I think we really need to focus on 2030, and I think globally we need to cut emissions by 50% – halve them – in this decade if we are to have any chance of sustaining the ‘temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius,’ Steffen told Al Jazeera.
“This is really the critical moment. It’s going to take a lot of investment, but it has to happen now. We can’t just talk about it as something down the road.
“The low emissions revolution”
In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, countries set a target to stay below 2C (3.6F), and preferably below 1.5C (2.7F), above pre-industrial levels.
Otherwise, the consensus is that extreme weather conditions, including droughts and floods, will become even more common, sea levels will rise, arctic ice will decrease, and many plants and animals will be unable to survive.
Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum accounted for almost 80% of the world’s energy supply in 2020 and renewables only 12%, noted the IEA.
“A low emissions revolution is long overdue,” the report says.
He called for a massive expansion of clean energy production, specifically citing wind and solar power. The IEA has warned that renewables, such as solar, wind and hydropower, as well as bioenergy, must account for a much larger share of energy investments, which are expected to triple by the end of the decade if the world hopes to fight climate change effectively.
Renewables will account for more than two-thirds of investment in new energy capacity this year, the IEA noted, but a significant gain in the use of coal and oil has caused the second annual increase in CO2 emissions responsible for the change. climate.
The report comes shortly before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which was held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.
He called the Glasgow meeting “an opportunity to provide an ‘unequivocal signal’ that is accelerating the transition to clean energy around the world”.
Major emitters like China, India and Saudi Arabia – which produce around a third of global emissions – have yet to step up their emission reduction targets, despite growing pressure to do so ahead of the COP26 climate summit of ONU.
But developed countries – which have been responsible for pumping most emissions into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution – must pay and help developing countries with tens of billions of dollars a year to help them adapt to disasters. climate change and transforming fossil fuel-based economies.
“Developed countries should quickly step up their climate finance,” said Claire Fyson, climate policy expert at Climate Analytics, a Berlin-based nonprofit.
Fyson said current emission reduction commitments and net zero commitments put the world on a 2.4 ° C (4.3 ° F) warming trajectory by the end of the century. “It’s terrifying considering the impacts we are already experiencing at 1.1C (2F),” she said. Recount the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Analysts said it was crucial to secure more ambitious emission reduction plans and provide the funding to put them into practice at COP26.
The conference was touted as the last chance to galvanize the collective effort needed to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial times – or face the worst consequences of climate change.
Reaching the 1.5 ° C target will not prevent worsening extreme weather conditions or sea level rise, but it is considered essential to avoid uncontrollable effects on humans and the planet, including large-scale hunger, mass migration and general chaos.
The UN climate science panel has said global warming emissions need to fall 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, then reach net zero by mid-century to have good chance of keeping warming at 1.5 ° C.
A 25% reduction is needed this decade to limit global heating to 2 ° C, the highest ceiling in the Paris Agreement.
But a September report from the United Nations climate change body, which assessed the climate action plans of 113 countries filed by the July deadline, said the commitments would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse by only 12% by 2030.