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“We are ruining our carbon budget”


Despite diplomatic summits and national mitigation plans, the world is still not on the right trajectory to curb global warming and limit its dramatic consequences. Approaching the 28e Conference of the Parties (COP28), which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12, reports are multiplying on the state of the atmosphere and the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) responsible of warming. They are all alarming. Monday, November 20, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) publishes its Emissions Gap Report. According to this study, emissions increased by 1.2% between 2021 and 2022 to reach a new record of 57.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2), which puts the Earth on a path to warming by 2.5°C to 2.9°C by the end of the century.

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“More and more countries have the ambition to achieve carbon neutrality, but this objective is not realistic at the momentsays Anne Olhoff, one of the authors of this document. We are ruining our carbon budget and it is necessary to have a strengthening of emissions reduction policies in the years to come to try to get back on the right trajectory. »

The path on which the States agreed is that which was traced by the Paris agreement sealed at COP21 in 2015, which recommends limiting the rise in temperatures “below 2°C” and if possible at 1.5°C. This text was not completely useless. According to the report, it first helped flatten the curve of emissions, which could have increased by 16% in 2030 compared to the 2015 level, while the projected increase today is 3%. Another virtuous consequence of this text, the set of contributions determined at the national level (NDC), that is to say the efforts put in place or envisaged by the States – a procedure triggered by the agreement –, now covers 80 % of global emissions, which makes it a good tool for acting on the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

“Necessary global transformations”

Despite this, efforts are far from sufficient. “Even in the most optimistic scenario, the probability of limiting warming to 1.5°C is only 14%”write the experts, who point out that“none of the G20 countries are reducing their emissions at a rate consistent with their objectives”. According to UNEP, if current contributions are applied, warming will be 2.9°C. If all NDCs were put in place, particularly those which are conditional on financial or technological aid from rich countries to developing countries, warming would still be 2.5°C.

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