GENEVA/GLASGOW: Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a record last year and the world is “way off track” in capping rising temperatures, the UN said on Monday in a stark illustration of the tasks facing UN climate talks in Scotland.
A report by the UN World Meteorological Organization showed carbon dioxide levels surged to 413.2 parts per million in 2020, rising more than the average rate over the last decade despite a temporary dip in emissions during COVID-19 lockdowns.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the current rate of increase in heat-trapping gases would result in temperature rises “far in excess” of the 2015 Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average this century.
“We are way off track,” he said. “We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life,” he added, calling for a “dramatic increase” in commitments at the COP26 conference beginning on Sunday.
The city of Glasgow was putting on the final touches before hosting the climate talks, which may be the world's best remaining chance to cap global warming at the 1.5-2 degrees Celsius upper limit set out in the Paris Agreement.
Under countries’ current pledges, global emissions would be 16 percent higher in 2030 than they were in 2010, according to a separate analysis by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
That is far off the 45 percent reduction by 2030 that scientists say is needed to cap warming at 1.5 degrees and avoid its most devastating impacts.
“Overshooting the temperature goals will lead to a destabilized world and endless suffering, especially among those who have contributed the least to the (greenhouse gas) emissions in the atmosphere," said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC.
“We are nowhere near where science says we should be,” Espinosa said.