The United Nations has again asked that G20 countries come through on their promise to reduce carbon pollution as the planet’s temperature rises to a catastrophic average of 2.7-degree Celsius in this century.
Just days before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) urged countries to be more committed to greenhouse gas cuts in order to protect the planet.
“The G20 countries are responsible for 78 percent of all emissions so the ‘to do item’ lies with them,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the UNEP, told Al Jazeera.
“The developed countries have a special responsibility to really step up, but actually everyone does – all 193 member states.”
Andersen said much of the pledged action by countries is delayed until 2030, which scientists warn will be far too late to halt the worst ravages of climate change on the planet. “Action is needed now,” she warned.
Governments will be in the spotlight at the COP26 conference next week to meet a deadline of this year to commit to more ambitious greenhouse gas cut promises, in what could be the last chance to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
This would help prevent the worst-imagined catastrophic changes threatening the planet, scientists say. As extreme weather events including superstorms, forest fires and floods increasingly hit countries around the world, even the slightest increase in global temperatures will worsen the situation.
The UN World Meteorological Organization said ahead of the two-week event, which begins on Sunday, that greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record last year and the world is “way off track” in capping rising temperatures.
If all pledges by 192 countries under the Paris Agreement are taken together, an increase of about 16 percent in global emissions is expected by 2030 compared with 2010, which would lead to warming of 2.7C by the end of the century – a figure that would worsen the lives of millions of people on earth.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said the recent report should be a wake-up call to save the planet and its people.
“This report is another thundering wake-up call. How many do we need? The emissions gap is the result of a leadership gap,” Guterres told a press briefing. “The era of half measures and hollow promises must end. The time for closing the leadership gap must begin in Glasgow.”
UNEP also added that the most recent commitments would shave 7.5 percent off previously predicted 2030 emissions levels. To keep on a 1.5C trajectory, a 55-per cent reduction is needed.