New UN report finds countries falling short of hitting international climate goals

New UN report finds countries falling short of hitting international climate goals
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A new United Nations climate report is offering no reprieve from the recent deluge of reports warning about the globe’s warming temperatures, saying that "urgent action is required by all nations."

The latest report, released Tuesday by the U.N. as part of its annual Environment Emissions Gap Report, warns that many nations’ current attempts to cut emissions are falling woefully short of the goal set out in the Paris climate agreement.


Current emission targets for every country would result in a global average temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, the report found. That’s a significant miss from the original goal to keep temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“Current commitments expressed in the NDC [Nationally Determined Contributions] are inadequate to bridge the emissions gap in 2030. Technically, it is still possible to bridge the gap to ensure global warming stays well below 2°C and 1.5°C, but if NDC ambitions are not increased before 2030, exceeding the 1.5°C goal can no longer be avoided,” the report read. “Now more than ever, unprecedented and urgent action is required by all nations.”

The U.N. report mirrors a handful of other reports released in the past two months warning of the life-threatening consequences of continued greenhouse gas emissions and failure by countries to decrease carbon levels in the atmosphere.

In October, a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urged that the effects of climate change would be irreversible if not addressed and that the world had 12 years to keep temperatures to 1.5 degrees of warming. The report explained, that surpassing the 1.5-degree mark could have dramatic effects including worsening drought, flooding, heat waves and depletion of coral reefs and glaciers.

The U.N.’s most recent report highlights that countries still have a long way to go in order to meet the necessary emissions cuts by that deadline.

The flagship annual report also measures the gap between current global emissions and what is needed to keep temperature rise between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees of warming. The findings this year yielded the biggest gap, due to higher emissions stemming largely from fossil fuels and insignificant measures to address the problem.

Emissions increases were most significant in 2017.

“Global greenhouse gas emissions show no signs of peaking. Global CO2 emissions from energy and industry increased in 2017, following a three-year period of stabilization,” the report found.

The U.S. government released its own report on Friday that also found climate change was responsible for dramatic temperature increases within the United States and, if not addressed, would result in sea level rise, unlivable temperatures and major impacts to the tourism, agriculture and fishery economic sectors.

A second report released by the U.S. Geological Survey that same day found that nearly a quarter of all carbon emissions in the United States came from drilling on federally owned land. The Trump administration has been a big proponent of increasing oil and gas exploration on public lands and offshore.

Trump on Monday denounced the findings of his administration’s own report, telling reporters “I don’t believe it,” when asked about the economic repercussions it lays out.

He blamed other countries for failing to step up in their emissions, pointing to a recently released Environmental Protection Agency report that emissions were down in the U.S.

"Right now we're at the cleanest we've ever been and that's very important to me. But if we're clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that's not so good,” he said.

The October report Trump referred to found that emissions dropped in the U.S. by nearly 3 percent between 2016 to 2017. While the administration was quick to take credit for the findings, the cuts largely stemmed from policies put in place under former President Obama, many of which have been curtailed since Trump took office.

The largely interconnected findings of the various climate reports will likely serve as important guideposts next week when a number of leaders meet at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland to draft a rule book for the Paris climate agreement.

While Trump announced last summer that he will pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris accords largely championed by Obama, the administration plans to send at least one representative to sit in on the negotiations.