The gap has widened between countries’ pledges for reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and what is needed to keep planet warming in check, the UN warned.
Based on current pledges, global average temperatures could rise by three to five degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century — way above the two degrees Celsius being targeted, said a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report.
Urgent and decisive action could still see the world get back on track, but this would mean cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent to about 44 billion tonnes in 2020 from an estimated 50.1 billion tonnes per year now.
Without swift action, emissions are likely to be at 58 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) in eight years’ time, according to the report compiled by 55 scientists from more than 20 countries.
“The opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt (gigatonne) target is narrowing annually,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner — adding the message was “one of great alarm and concern about where we are”.