UN: Climate pledges won’t meet key goal

UN: Climate pledges won’t meet key goal
© Getty Images

The United Nations is warning world leaders that the pledges they have submitted to fight climate change will not amount to the goal they had previously agreed to.

In a Friday report, the U.N.’s framework convention on climate change said that the pledges from just over 150 countries will lead to global warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100 when compared with pre-industrial temperatures.

ADVERTISEMENT
Previously, leaders had agreed with the scientific consensus that limiting 2 degrees Celsius would prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change and should be the yardstick by which to measure the global climate pact due to finalization in Paris in December.

The report is, in part, a consequence of the structure of the agreement, in which countries have been asked to submit pledges, or individual nationally determined contributions (INDC), based on their own greenhouse gas-cutting capabilities.

“The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated four, five, or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s climate agency, said in a statement with the report.

The assessment is not unexpected. The group Climate Action Tracker came to a similar conclusion earlier this year.

Many leaders, including President Obama, have been recently downplaying expectations about the Paris talks, saying that the 2 degree goal is not as important as coming to an agreement that makes real, lasting progress.

Paul Bodnar, the top climate official in the White House’s National Security Council, struck a similar tone in response to Friday report.

“The UN report shows that the pledges submitted so far represent a substantial step up in global action and will significantly bend down the world’s carbon pollution trajectory,” he wrote in a blog post. “The targets are projected to significantly slow the annual growth rate in emissions — including a major decrease in rate compared to the most recent decade.”

Bodnar called for “deepening global ambition” to keep working toward the 2 degree goal.