Energy & Environment

UN: Greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 reached new high

Greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high in 2019, according to a new United Nations report.

The latest report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) underscores the rapid pace at which the global climate is changing and highlights its consequences, including heat waves and wildfires — two phenomena areas of the world have already experienced. 

The annual report gauges the difference between anticipated emissions and the level of emissions needed to limit global temperature rises.

Emissions have increased by an average of 1.4 percent each year since 2010, with the world seeing a sharper spike of 2.6 percent in 2019. Total carbon dioxide emissions were equivalent to 59.1 gigatons last year, setting an alarming new record.

The report found that the top four emitters — China, the U.S., the European Union (including the U.K.) and India — have contributed to 55 percent of the total emissions. The top seven emitters, including Russia, Japan and international transport, contributed to 65 percent of emissions. 

The report noted that “The growing number of countries that are committing to net-zero emissions goals by around mid-century is the most significant and encouraging climate policy development of 2020.” However, the report added it is “imperative” that those commitments actually be translated into policy.

Still, current commitments by nations across the world to reduce their emissions “remain seriously inadequate,” according to the report, and would lead to a global temperature increase of at least 3 degrees Celsius as early as the end of the century.

The world has seen a slight dip in emissions during the coronavirus pandemic, but the report found that the decrease “will not contribute significantly to emissions reductions by 2030 unless countries pursue an economic recovery that incorporates strong decarbonization.” 

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed upon his inauguration to rejoin the Paris climate accords, which works to bolster international cooperation to keep the temperature rise this century “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Tags Climate change Climate change mitigation Climate change policy Climate change scenario Greenhouse gas Joe Biden Paris agreement United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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