Following on from yesterday's news that the world's greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high in 2018 at 55 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the UN has said that significant cuts need to take place across the planet if we are to have any hope of limiting global average temperature increases by the year 2100 to 1.5C.
Global emissions have increased by around 1.5% each year in the last decade. To have any hope of limiting temperature increases to 1.5C by 2100, greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by at least 7.6% every year for the next ten years.
In 2020, under the terms of the 2015 Paris agreement, countries have to commit to emissions cutting targets at a UN climate summit, which will take place in Glasgow. If they stick to their current pledges, emissions would have to be cut to zero from 2030 onwards to avoid temperature increases of above 1.5C, so there is a lot of work for our governments to do!
The word's 20 wealthiest nations (the G20) create 78% of all emissions. But only the UK, Italy, France and the EU have committed to reaching net zero emissions at some point in the future. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the US all need to do more to even achieve their existing commitments to emissions reductions.
India, Turkey and Russia are all set to over-achieve on their targets, but that is because at 15%, they were set too low in the first place. China, the EU and Mexico look set to meet their NDCs within their existing policies. It is uncertain whether Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Argentina are on track to meet their targets or not.
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen said, "We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger NDCs [nationally determined contributions - commitments by individual countries to reduce their emissions] to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies.... "If we don't do this, the 1.5C goal will be out of reach before 2030."
Next week, UN negotiators will be meeting in Madrid for COP25 (the 25th UN Climate Conference) and we need to see strong new commitments to much bigger emissions reductions being made there, to ensure the success of the crunch conference in 2020.