By Vanessa Akoth

As greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to surge, pushing global temperatures to unprecedented levels, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) now reveals growing concerns about the potential of surpassing the specified 1.5°C temperature limit.

The Emissions Gap Report 2023 titled Broken Record -Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again), sheds light on the disparity between pledged reductions in GHG emissions and the necessary cuts required to align with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

The report’s findings indicate that significant global low-carbon transformations are needed to achieve the predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emission cuts of 28% for a 2°C pathway and 42% for a 1.5°C pathway.

Antònio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations while highlighting the pressing need to combat the climate crisis, said, “We know it is still possible to make the 1.5-degree limit a reality, it requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis ‘fossil fuels’ and demands a just, equitable renewable transition.”

To narrow the emission gap, the report hinges on significantly strengthening mitigation this decade and recommends that substantial efforts are still needed to curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, which currently contribute about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This will facilitate more ambitious targets for 2035 in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and increase the chances of meeting net-zero pledges, which now cover around 80 percent of global emissions.

The report further indicates that if mitigation efforts implied by current policies are continued at today’s levels, global emissions in 2030 now anticipate a 3% increase, a marked improvement from the initially projected 16%.

“Implementing and continuing mitigation efforts by unconditional NDCs would put the world on track for limiting temperature rise to 2.9°C this century while fully implementing conditional NDCs would lead to temperatures not exceeding 2.5°C,” Inger Andersen, the Executive Director, UNEP.

Until the beginning of October this year, there were 86 days with temperatures exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and September marked the hottest recorded month ever, with global average temperatures reaching 1.8°C above pre-industrial levels.

Emphasizing the urgency for change, Anderson underscored, the transition towards sustainable energy.

“Countries with greater capacity and responsibility for emissions particularly high-income and high-emitting countries will need to take more ambitious and rapid action and provide financial and technical support to developing nations to deliver economy-wide, low-carbon development transformations,” she noted.

The Emissions Gap Report 2023 has been launched ahead of the annual climate summit scheduled to take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.