The emissions-cutting plans the world’s nations have submitted ahead of a crunch climate summit are massively inadequate and put the world “wildly off track” from preventing global heating, a UN assessment has found.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated that even if all the policies now in place were fully implemented, global emissions would still be 12-14% higher than the level needed by 2030 to meet the temperature targets of the Paris climate agreement.
This is “likely the biggest gap between ambition and reality ever observed”, UNEP said in a report on Thursday. “That only intensifies what is already a matter of deep urgency – the need to bridge the gap between what is now planned and what must be done.”
The report follows the submission of revised climate action plans by countries around the world, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). All told, the NDCs put the world on track for a temperature rise of at least 3.2C this century, a catastrophic result.
To bridge the gap, UNEP said, countries must strengthen their NDCs before the next climate summit in November, known as COP26, or else establish mechanisms to achieve even deeper cuts in emissions later on.
The UN warned: “Without urgent and drastic action to cut emissions, the world is on an unsustainable trajectory with unprecedented levels of damage to natural systems and impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods.”