SWITZERLAND – With just a fortnight until the commencement of COP28, a pair of reports from the UN Climate Change paints a concerning picture of nations’ progress in combating the climate crisis.

Despite their own commitments, countries are taking “baby steps,” warns Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, emphasizing the need for bolder actions to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century.

Stagnation in carbon reduction efforts

The UN Climate Change report on countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) reveals insufficient progress.

To achieve the 2030 goal of slashing emissions by 43% (as per the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target), current climate action promises, if implemented, would result in only a 5.3% reduction.

If conditional commitments aren’t met, emissions could increase by 1.4%. Stiell calls for COP28 to be a decisive turning point, urging governments not only to agree on stronger climate actions but also to demonstrate how to implement them.

Despite the urgency highlighted by the NDCs report, the host of COP28, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), plans to increase its oil production by one million barrels per day by 2027.

This contradicts the call for greater ambition and urgency in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. A recent UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report indicates that governments, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the UK, plan to extract 51% more oil and gas by 2050.

India, Saudi Arabia, and Russia lead in coal, oil, and gas production, with India projecting a 75% increase in coal production by 2030.

Transition to net-zero emissions

The second UN Climate Change report examines countries’ plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

While it suggests a potential 63% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 compared to 2019, full implementation of long-term strategies is crucial.

Seventy-five parties to the Paris Agreement, representing major economies, show a positive trend toward aiming for net-zero emissions.

Stiell emphasizes that COP28’s global stocktake is pivotal for nations to intensify efforts and align with Paris Agreement goals.

Grim greenhouse gas trends

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivers a bleak outlook in its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Bulletin ahead of COP28.

WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas notes the alarming trend of GHG emissions with no end in sight.

Carbon dioxide levels, 50% above pre-industrial levels, are accompanied by rising methane and a record year-on-year surge in nitrous oxide.

After three decades of global climate meetings, the frustration is palpable as emissions are forecasted to increase.

Emissions are forecasted to rise by 55.2% by 2025 over 1990 levels, highlighting the urgency for rapid change.

WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas stresses the need for rapid change, and Stiell calls for showcasing the immediate benefits of bold climate action, emphasizing the potential for more jobs, higher wages, economic growth, opportunity, stability, less pollution, and better health.

As the carbon clock counts down, COP28 is viewed as a critical opportunity to make a transformative impact in the fight against climate change.

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