World headed for nearly 3 degrees Celsius warming if drastic steps not taken: UN report

New Delhi: The world is headed for a temperature rise of around 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century even if countries fully implement their nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) or action plans to reduce the emission of planet-warming gases, according to a new report released by the United Nations on Monday.

Countries need to cut emissions by 28 percent to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and by 42 per cent to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report 2023, titled “Broken Record”, said.

The report released ahead of the 28th session of the annual UN climate talks or COP28 in Dubai said global emissions rose by 1.2 percent in 2021-2022.

“Fully implementing efforts implied by unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would put the world on track for limiting temperature rise to 2.9 degrees Celsius. Conditional NDCs fully implemented would lead to temperatures not exceeding 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” the report read.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The report said countries have made progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since the signing of the Paris Agreement as the 2016 edition of the report had a projected warming of up to 3.4 degrees Celsius in a business-as-usual scenario.

Despite the progress, the world is very far from limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid extreme, destructive and likely irreversible effects of climate change, the UN said.

The world is already experiencing unprecedented heat, floods, wildfires, cyclones, and droughts at just 1.1 degrees of global warming.

Until the beginning of October, 86 days in this year were recorded with temperatures over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. September was the hottest recorded month ever, with global average temperatures 1.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition,” said Antònio Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN.

The report calls for all nations to deliver economy-wide, low-carbon development transformations, with a focus on energy transition.

The coal, oil and gas extracted over the lifetime of producing and the planned mines and fields would emit more than three-and-a-half times the carbon budget available to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and almost the entire budget available for 2 degrees Celsius, the report said.

Climate science defines carbon budget as the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted for a given level of global warming (1.5 degrees Celsius in this case).

Developed countries have already consumed more than 80 per cent of the global carbon budget, leaving countries like India with very little carbon space for the future.

“Countries with greater capacity and responsibility for emissions — particularly high-income and high-emitting countries among the G20 — will need to take more ambitious and rapid action and provide financial and technical support to developing nations. As low- and middle-income countries already account for more than two-thirds of global GHG emissions, meeting development needs with low-emissions growth is a priority in such nations — such as addressing energy demand patterns and prioritising clean energy supply chains,” it said.

Harjeet Singh, the head of global political strategy at the New Delhi-based Climate Action Network International, said the world is on thin ice.

“The stark reality is that the projected emissions from coal, oil and gas extraction are on track to exceed the carbon budget needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by more than three-and-a-half times,” he said.