UN Assessment Confirms World is Standing on the Brink of Climate Catastrophe
[Editor's note: You'd think these three reports released this week—World Resources Institute report finding there are 1,199 new coal power plants in the works, totaling more than 1.4 million megawatts of capacity worldwide, World Meteorological Organization report stating that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2011 and the World Bank report, Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided, warning that if the global community fails to act on climate change, it will trigger a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people—would be enough to move world leaders toward dramatically reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Hopefully headway will be made at the UN climate summit in Doha beginning next week.]
Governments are falling far short of their commitment to keep global average temperature rise below the accepted 2°C goal, putting the world on the brink of climate catastrophe.
The UN Environment Program’s Emissions Gap Report 2012, released Nov. 21, identifies a huge gap between current pledges to cut polluting greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and the benchmark of 44 gigatonnes that offers a credible pathway to staying below 2°C.
Last year, UNEP put the gap between pledges and what’s needed at 6-11 gigatonnes—but has now increased this estimate to an alarming 8-13 gigatonnes. In context, annual emissions from the U.S. and China are currently around 7 and 10 to 11 gigatonnes, respectively.
“UNEP’s assessment confirms that the world is standing on the brink,” says Samantha Smith, head of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.
“On current levels of ambition, we are heading for warming of 4°C this century—a prospect that the World Bank this week described as ‘devastating’. In the face of such sobering assessments by some of the world’s largest institutions, we have to ask – what will it take for our leaders to listen and act?”
There are a range of actions that can be taken immediately to begin to close the gap, including at the UN climate summit in Doha which begins next week:
- Governments must agree clear processes to increase ambition further before 2020, in the context of a promised new international agreement to be struck in 2015.
- Governments must agree on robust common accounting rules for greenhouse gas emissions, and also agree to retire the large amounts of surplus “hot air” emission credits currently swilling around in the system.
- Countries, including European countries, should also move to the top end of their emission pledges for 2020, and come forward with credible plans for meeting or exceeding them.
- Governments must agree strong reforms to carbon market mechanisms to prevent double counting of offset credits and to rule out offsets that do not need to clear net emission reductions.
“UNEP shows clearly that it is still feasible to get back on track for a safer climate future, but that every year’s delay makes the task harder,” says Smith.
“The solutions are all in our grasp—energy efficiency, clean renewable energy, smarter transport systems, action to protect our forests and a move to more sustainable agriculture. By far the biggest barrier to delivering these is the collective and individual failure of political will. Unless we act urgently, future generations will not forgive us,” she says.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
By Jessica Corbett
This story was originally published on Common Dreams on September 19, 2020.
Some advocates kicked off next week's Climate Week NYC early Saturday by repurposing the Metronome, a famous art installation in Union Square that used to display the time of day, as a massive "Climate Clock" in an effort to pressure governments worldwide to take swift, bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rein in human-caused global heating.
<div id="0bde7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="002ce26d8d0c627f76d752e14d234d6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307397838884741121" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">LIVE: #ClimateClock about to go live at Union square replacing the atronomical clock, with a carbon countdown!… https://t.co/5OzxwUwWDf</div> — Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖) (@Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖))<a href="https://twitter.com/GregSchwedock/statuses/1307397838884741121">1600542909.0</a></blockquote></div><p>A mobile climate clock that Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg "now carries with her, as well as the larger Climate Clock project, was assembled by a team of artists, makers, scientists, and activists based in New York, and is part of the Beautiful Trouble community of projects," according to <a href="https://climateclock.world/" target="_blank">Climateclock.world</a>, which details the science behind the numbers displayed and how to install clocks in other cities.</p>
- 5 Virtual Events to Check Out This Climate Week NYC - EcoWatch ›
- Covering Climate Now Highlights Solutions for Earth Week - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg means the nation's highest court has lost a staunch advocate for women's rights and civil rights. Ginsburg was a tireless worker, who continued to serve on the bench through multiple bouts of cancer. She also leaves behind a complicated environmental legacy, as Environment and Energy News (E&E News) reported.
- Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Cross-State Air Pollution Rule ... ›
- Supreme Court Upholds Virginia's Ban on Uranium Mining - EcoWatch ›
- In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of ... ›
Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.
The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.
- U.S. Products Labeled Recyclable Really Aren't, Greenpeace ... ›
- The Recycling Dilemma: Good Plastic, Bad plastic? - EcoWatch ›
- The Complex and Frustrating Reality of Recycling Plastic - EcoWatch ›
By Pamela Davis-Kean
With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.
- How Other Countries Reopened Schools During the Pandemic ... ›
- Young People Are Primary Coronavirus Spreaders, WHO Warns ... ›
- How Families Can Boost Kids' Mental Health During the Pandemic ... ›