The half-hearted global efforts to cut down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past decade is pushing humanity towards a precarious future and the world may have to work four times more to minimise the effects of climate change, said a commentary in scientific journal Nature on Wednesday.
A team of climate policy experts, including Navroz K Dubash, a professor at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, arrived at this conclusion by comparing what various countries pledged to do individually to reduce GHG emissions and what they need to do collectively to meet agreed temperature goals.
The experts drew their conclusion by synthesising 10 editions of the Emissions Gap report brought out by the UN Environment Programme between 2010 and 2019.
In the 2009 Copenhagen accord and the 2010 Cancun agreement (hammered out at a conference of parties of the UN Framework of Climate Change Convention in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in Mexico in 2010, respectively), counties collectively pledged to limit warming to below 2°C, and 73 countries individually pledged emissions targets for 2020.
Subsequently, in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that warming of more than 1.5°C would be disastrous for the planet.
“Had serious climate action began in 2010, the cuts required to meet the emissions levels for 2°C would have been around 2 per cent per year, on an average, up to 2030. Instead, emissions increased. Consequently, the required cuts are now more than 7 per cent on an average for 1.5°C,” said the experts in the Nature report.
Despite all the pledges, by 2015, the estimated global emissions for 2030 had decreased by only 3 per cent. As part of the analysis, the experts looked at the performance of the seven top emitters