Paris Emissions Pledges deemed insufficient
Published: 29 Nov 2019

The United Nations has called for a push to cut greenhouse gas levels, in an effort to stop climate chaos from occurring. Global emissions are recommended to fall by 7.6% a year to avoid this crisis. 

As emissions hit an all time high last year, the UN has subsequently, and unexpectedly, warned countries to make an effort to successfully cut their levels of greenhouse gases throughout the next decade, in order to avoid the near inevitable climate issues. In 2018, accounting for deforestation, carbon dioxide emissions rose to more than 55 gigatonnes, and for the past decade, have continued to rise on average by 1.5% per year, according to the Annual emissions gap Report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

It is shown that global emissions must fall by 7.6% every year, starting now and continuing until 2030, in order to stay within the 1.5°C cap on temperature rise that serves to avoid disastrous consequences. This decreasing rate of emission has only been seen in recent history once, during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even during the financial crisis and recession, emissions in both the US and Japan only fell by about 6%, for a brief time, then soon rebounded. With the use of technologies that are now available and increasingly cheaper, such as renewable energies and electric vehicles, there can be deep cuts in carbon use without jeopardising any economic growth. John Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark, a co-author of the Report, has stated the cuts in emissions now required were "unprecedented".

The Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, believes that postponing action can no longer be an option, stating that "our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we must now deliver deep cuts to emissions [of] over 7% each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade. This shows that countries simply cannot wait". She believes that urgent action is necessary to save the fate of the world in the next few years, and to stop carbon rising to levels that will make dangerous results of global warming inevitable.

"We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger [commitments under the Paris agreement] to kickstart the major transformations of economies and societies".

Various escalating events of heatwaves, droughts and extreme storms seen across the world recently are a result of the failure to cut emissions fast enough. Whilst there has been known examples of rapid change occurring in specific technologies or sectors, there is not a precedent set for the documented rate of change at the scale that is required for limiting warming to 1.5°C only (above the pre-industrial levels).

Thanks to fossil-fuel centered economies, it is currently difficult for national governments to put climate concerns at their priority, leading to a global shift off track of the Paris Agreement's original plan. Countries are now collectively failing to stop growth in greenhouse gas emissions, as a result, next year, governments are expected to make new commitments to substantially cut these dangerous greenhouse gases by 2030. This month there will be a meeting of officials and ministers in Madrid, in preparation for a meeting in Glasgow, where they will address the gap between the current emissions pledges, and the scientific estimates of what it should be by now. The current pledges under the Paris agreement have been deemed inadequate, as a result countries must take immediate action, as well as commission new commitments. 

This has been near to common knowledge since the Paris Agreement in 2015, but rising emissions in the interim have made an increasingly dangerous atmosphere more likely, and certainly more prevalent. The result of a 1.5°C rise above the pre-industrial levels itself, reveals the following events:

  • a near-total extinction of coral reefs;
  • extreme weather around the world.

According to scientific estimates, if countries were to remain on the Paris Agreement pledges, there would be a rise of near to 3.2°C this century alone, bringing catastrophic effects. 

For more information on this subject, see: