Jam open the closing window of climate action

Photo by Joshua Coleman/ Unsplash

Statement by: Inger Andersen

Event: Emissions Gap Report 2022 launch

Location: Nairobi

I am not going to waste your time talking about the impacts of climate change. We all know them. We all feel them. We all know they are going to get worse. And still, as UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2022 shows, we still, STILL, aren’t doing anywhere near enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Glasgow climate summit last year, countries committed to update their climate pledges to deliver far greater emissions cuts. The Gap report documents that, collectively, the limited number of updated pledges shave less than 1 per cent off projected greenhouse gas emissions in 2030. This is completely insufficient.  We need to cut 45 per cent off emissions by 2030, over and above what current policies will deliver, to get on track to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. For 2°C, the challenge is smaller but still significant: 30 per cent by 2030.

Where does this leave us? Well, it leaves us heading for a 2.4°C to 2.6°C increase in temperatures by 2100, depending on whether we analyze conditional or unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions. Sure, adding in net-zero commitments could bring us down to 1.8. But this scenario isn’t credible, particularly when we consider that current policies leave us heading for a 2.8°C temperature rise and that new pledges are so highly insufficient.

The science from UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report and indeed science presented by our friends at the UNFCCC and the WMO earlier this week is resounding: we are sliding from climate crisis to climate disaster.

This report sends us a very clear message. If we are serious about climate change, we need to kick start a system-wide transformation, now. We need a root-and-branch redesign of the electricity sector, of the transport sector, of the building sector and of food systems. And we need to reform financial systems so that they can bankroll the transformations we cannot escape.

I know some people think this can’t be done over the next eight years. But we can’t just throw up our hands and say we failed before we have even really tried. We must try, because every fraction of a degree matters: to vulnerable communities, to those that are yet to be connected to the electricity grid, to species and ecosystems, and to every one of us. Even if we don’t get everything in place by 2030, we will be setting up the foundation for a carbon-neutral future: one that will allow us to bring down temperature overshoots and deliver other benefits, like green jobs, universal energy access and clean air.

So, I urge every nation, every government to pore over the solutions offered in this report and build them into their climate commitments. I urge the private sector to start reworking their practices accordingly. I urge every investor, public and private, to put their capital towards a net-zero world. This is how we can jam open the closing window for climate action and start to change our world for the better, for everyone.


Source: UN Environment Programme

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