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UNEP chief Inger Andersen: "Humanity is breaking all false records when it comes to climate change"

Photo: Tony Karumba / AFP

Despite urgent warnings and the increasingly noticeable consequences of climate change, the international community is moving towards dangerous global warming of up to 2.9 degrees Celsius in its current climate protection commitments. This is the result of the so-called Emissions Gap Report, which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) presented on Monday, one and a half weeks before the World Climate Conference in Dubai.

UNEP chief Inger Andersen warned of dramatic temperature rises. "Humanity is breaking all false records when it comes to climate change," Andersen noted in her foreword to the report. Greater efforts are urgently needed. In the annual report, UNEP identifies the gap between the expected emissions and the values that would be necessary to achieve the Paris climate targets. In Paris in 2015, the international community agreed to limit global warming to well below two degrees, but preferably to 1.5 degrees, compared to the pre-industrial era.

2023 probably the warmest year on record

Greenhouse gas emissions would have reached a new record in 2022. In September of this year, temperatures worldwide were on average 1.8 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times, according to the UNEP chief. It is almost certain that 2023 will be the warmest year on record.

The commitments made so far to the Paris Climate Agreement are therefore not enough. Even if they are adhered to, the world is heading for a temperature increase of between 2.5 and 2.9 degrees Celsius in this century compared to pre-industrial times.

The possibility of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement depends to a large extent on increased climate adaptation measures before the end of this decade, the UNEP chief stressed. The emissions projected for 2030 would have to be reduced by at least 28 to 42 percent compared to the currently planned scenarios in order to achieve the agreed global warming targets of 2 and 1.5 degrees, respectively.

The world is currently experiencing "a disturbing acceleration in the number, speed and magnitude of surpassed climate records," Unep said. Nevertheless, humanity is blowing record amounts of greenhouse gas emissions into the Earth's atmosphere, primarily through the use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for immediate "drastic" measures in light of the new UN report on dangerous global warming of up to 2.9 degrees. Leaders must "drastically redouble their efforts," Guterres said. We've gone off the road."

The UNEP report is to feed into the global stocktaking at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, where national measures to implement the Paris climate targets will be reviewed.