DJ World Off Track to Meet Paris Climate Targets, U.N. Says -- WSJ
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By Matthew Dalton
The Earth is expected to be around 2.7 degrees Celsius warmer by the end of this century than in the preindustrial era under emissions plans drafted for the Paris climate accord, the United Nations said Friday, putting the world far off track from the agreement's climate targets.
The report is drafted by U.N. scientists based on the most recent emissions plans from 191 countries that were submitted to the U.N. by July 31. The 2.7-degree Celsius figure is part of a range of end-of-century temperature estimates between 2.1 and 3.5 degrees of warming.
The U.N.'s report shows the challenges facing governments as they prepare to gather in Scotland for the first major climate summit since the Paris accord in 2015. The Paris agreement called for governments to limit the rise in global temperatures to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius and required them to update their environmental plans repeatedly to hit the target. Friday's report is expected to serve as a starting point for negotiations in Glasgow over how much the world needs to cut emissions and which countries need to do more.
Economies around the world have been rapidly adopting solar panels, wind turbines and other low-emission technologies, but scientists say the shift from fossil fuels hasn't been happening nearly fast enough to stop rising sea levels, more frequent and powerful storms and other impacts of climate change.
China, the world's biggest emitter, and India, the second-most populous nation, have yet to submit updated emission reduction plans to the U.N., so Friday's report doesn't include plans they have announced but not formally submitted. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in December that China was aiming to get 25% of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and become carbon neutral before 2060.
The world stands little chance of hitting the Paris climate target without China updating the last climate plan it submitted to the U.N., which dates from 2016, according to the U.N. report. Global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to have risen by 16% by 2030 compared with 2010, based on the climate plans submitted by the end of July, the U.N. said.
"The 16% increase is a huge cause of concern," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of U.N. Climate Change. "It is in sharp contrast with the calls by science for rapid, sustained and large-scale emission reductions to prevent the most severe climate consequences and suffering, especially of the most vulnerable, throughout the world."
China and India are expected to see greenhouse gases grow strongly in the coming years, given surging economic growth. The Biden administration and the European Union have called for China to begin cutting emissions sooner.
The U.N. report also notes that many of the emissions plans submitted by developing countries are contingent on receiving financing that the developed world pledged to them under the Paris accord.
Wealthy countries promised poorer nations at least $100 billion annually starting in 2020 to shift away from fossil fuels and protect themselves against the effects of global warming. That pledge likely hasn't been met, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. On Friday, the OECD said wealthy countries have only provided $80 billion in finance in 2019.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Friday that the success of the Glasgow summit rests on developed countries meeting the $100 billion target.
"This is a crucial question of trust," he said.
Write to Matthew Dalton at [email protected]
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (September 18, 2021).
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 18, 2021 02:33 ET (06:33 GMT)