Updated pledges since COP26 in Glasgow take less than one per cent off projected 2030 greenhouse gas emissions; 45 per cent is needed for limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Transforming the electricity supply, industry, transport and buildings sectors, and the food and financial systems would help put world on a path to success. Those above ar some of the outcomes of the Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies- released by UNEP today.
The window to take urgent climate action is closing rapidly. Unless countries dramatically scale up their efforts to counter the climate crisis, the world faces a global catastrophe, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned today.
As intensifying climate impacts across the globe hammer home the message that greenhouse gas emissions must fall rapidly, a new UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report finds that the international community is still falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place.
To the poor performance problem adds the fact that money needed is not actually moving to the climate action investment field.
A global transformation to a low-emissions economy is expected to require investments of at least $4-6 trillion a year. This is a relatively small (1.5-2%) share of total financial assets managed, but significant (20-28 per cent) in terms of additional annual resources to be allocated.
Most financial actors, despite stated intentions, have shown limited action on climate mitigation because of short-term interests, conflicting objectives and not recognizing climate risks adequately.
“This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us, all year, through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.”
Massive emmissions cut at no less than 30% to meet the 2°C goal
Despite a decision by all countries at the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow, UK (COP26) to strengthen Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and some updates from nations, progress hasn’t been enough to deliver.
NDCs submitted this year take only 0.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, less than 1% of the projected global emissions cut by 2030.
This lack of progress leaves the world hurtling towards a temperature rise far above the Paris Agreement goal of well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C.
“It is a tall, and some would say impossible, order to reform the global economy and almost halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but we must try,” said Andersen. “Every fraction of a degree matters: to vulnerable communities, to species and ecosystems, and to every one of us.”
In fact, unconditional NDCs are estimated to give a 66% chance of limiting global warming to about 2.6°C over the century, while for conditional NDCs, those that are dependent on external support, this figure is reduced to 2.4°C.
Current policies alone would lead to a 2.8°C hike, highlighting the temperature implications of the gap between promises and action.
In the best-case scenario, full implementation of unconditional NDCs and additional net-zero emissions commitments point to an achievement at 1.8°C increase (under de 2% goal), so there is hope.
However, this scenario is not currently credible based on the discrepancy between current emissions, short-term NDC targets and long-term net-zero targets, points UNEP.
While at least a 30% cut in emissions in needed to deliver on the COP27 goals, unconditional and conditional NDCs are estimated to reduce global emissions by 2030 at 5 and 10% respectively. Despite below the goal the cuts level is far over the reduction of emissions based on policies currently in place.
“Even if we don’t meet our 2030 goals, we must strive to get as close as possible to 1.5°C. This means setting up the foundations of a net-zero future: one that will allow us to bring down temperature overshoots and deliver many other social and environmental benefits, like clean air, green jobs and universal energy access,” Andersen concluded.
Six actions for a new financial sector oriented to anti warming investment
Governments and key financial actors will need to steer credibly in one direction: a transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.
The report recommends six approaches to financial sector reform, which must be carried out simultaneously:
1.- Make financial markets more efficient, including through taxonomies and transparency.
2.- Introduce carbon pricing, such as taxes or cap-and-trade systems.
3.- Nudge financial behaviour, through public policy interventions, taxes, spending and regulations.
4.- Create markets for low-carbon technology, through shifting financial flows, stimulating innovation and helping to set standards.
5.- Mobilize central banks: central banks are increasingly interested in addressing the climate crisis, but more concrete action on regulations is needed.
6.- Set up climate “clubs” of cooperating countries, cross-border finance initiatives and just transformation partnerships, which can alter policy norms and change the course of finance through credible financial commitment devices, such as sovereign guarantees.
Image over the headline.- Climate action protest. Image by Jasmin Sessler through Wikimedia Commons. To watch the original image and read the terms of the lisense, click here
Related external links:
To download the Emissions Gap Report 2022, click here