According to an important UN analysis, combating climate change requires a dramatic transformation of the way our society works, travels, eats, and uses energy.
This is the first “global stocktake” of countries’ efforts to decrease global warming emissions after the Paris accord was signed in 2015.
While progress has been achieved, efforts must now be dramatically increased.
The paper argues for “radical decarbonization” and a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels without carbon capture.
The combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal to create power generates carbon dioxide, which is the primary cause of climate change. Carbon capture in industrial processes and power plants prevents the majority of CO2 emissions by reusing or storing it underground.
Renewable energy also needs significant expansion while deforestation needs to be halted and reversed by 2030.
The stocktake report will be considered by political leaders and will be central to global climate talks in Dubai later this year.
Over the course of the past two years, the UN has set out to review the promises made by countries who signed the Paris agreement in 2015. At the meeting eight years ago, countries agreed to keep the amount of warming since the industrial revolution well below 2C and make efforts to keep it under 1.5C.
The report examines their efforts to cut carbon, to adapt to climate change and how they have mobilized finance and technology to help poorer nations deal with the problem.
No country is named and shamed in this report, which considers the collective approach to tackling the problem.
Much progress has been made, the document acknowledges, but the global rise in temperatures predicted for this century is still well above what was promised in Paris.
Keeping to those goals will now require a significant uptick in ambition according to the stock take, which calls for widespread “system transformation”.
Efforts at COP27 to agree on a phase-out of all unabated fossil fuels were thwarted because to opposition from many major oil-producing countries.
UN officials believe the stocktake report will put further pressure on COP28 to issue a strong statement.
“I urge governments to carefully study the report’s findings and ultimately understand what it means for them and the ambitious action they must take next,” said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The paper, according to observers, is a wake-up call.
“We already know the world is failing to meet its climate goals, but leaders now have a concrete blueprint underpinned by a mountain of evidence for how to get the job done,” said World Resources Institute’s Ani Dasgupta.