UN: no 'credible pathway' to Paris climate goals

There is "no credible pathway to 1.5C in place" today, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) states in its new Emissions Gap Report 2022, despite legally binding promises made at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference to prevent average temperatures rising by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. "This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year, through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast," said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. "We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster."

Despite Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) promises made by governments in favor of reducing their carbon footprint, pledges made since the last climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 will lead to cuts of less than one percent of projected 2030 greenhouse gas emissions, according to UNEP. This is the equivalent of just 0.5 gigatonnes of CO2, UNEP calculated, adding that only a 45% emissions reduction will limit global warming to 1.5C.

The latest data indicates that the world is on track for a temperature rise of between 2.4C and 2.6C by the end of this century.

"In the best-case scenario, full implementation of unconditional NDCs and additional net-zero emissions commitments point to only a 1.8C increase, so there is hope. However, this scenario is not currently credible based on the discrepancy between current emissions, short-term NDC targets and long-term net-zero targets," UNEP said. (UN News)

UN agencies have repeatedly issued dire warnings of imminent climate destabilization over the past years.

See our last report on the Paris accords.

IPCC: 10 years to global tipping point

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its "Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report" March 20, warning that the Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade unless nations make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels. Average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels sometime around "the first half of the 2030s," as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas. (NYT, EuroNews)

This concludes IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the first part of wich was released last year.

UN reports 'off the charts' melting of glaciers

The world's glaciers melted at dramatic speed last year and saving them is effectively a lost cause, the United Nations reported April 21, as climate change indicators once again hit record highs.

The last eight years have been the warmest ever recorded, while concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide hit new peaks, the UN World Meteorological Organization said.

The report also had grim news on the world's receding sea ice. "Antarctic sea ice fell to its lowest extent on record and the melting of some European glaciers was, literally, off the charts," the WMO said as it launched its annual climate overview.

Sea levels are also at a record high, having risen by an average of 4.62 millimetres per year between 2013 and 2022—double the annual rate between 1993 and 2002. (Phys.org)

Earth likely to breach 1.5C threshold by 2027: scientists

The world is almost certain to experience new record temperatures in the next five years, and temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, scientists have warned.

The breaching of the crucial 1.5C threshold should be only temporary, according to research from the World Meteorological Organization. However, it would represent a marked acceleration of human impacts on the global climate system, and send the world into "uncharted territory," the UN agency warned.

New record temperatures have been set in many areas around the world in the heatwaves of the past year, but those highs may only be the beginning, according to the report, as climate breakdown and the impact of a developing El Niño weather system combine to create heatwaves across the globe. (The Guardian)

UN sees 'era of global boiling'

The era of global warming has ended and "the era of global boiling has arrived," the UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said after scientists confirmed July was on track to be the world's hottest month on record.

"Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning," Guterres said. "It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C [above pre-industrial levels], and avoid the very worst of climate change. But only with dramatic, immediate climate action."

Guterres' comments came after scientists confirmed that the past three weeks have been the hottest since records began and July is on track to be the hottest month ever recorded.

Global temperatures this month have shattered records, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the EU's Copernicus Earth observation program. (The Guardian)

Grim forecast from first Global Stocktake on the climate treaty

Eight years after world leaders approved a landmark agreement in Paris to fight climate change, countries have made only limited progress in staving off the most dangerous effects of global warming, according to the first Global Stocktake on the climate treaty. Under the Paris Agreement, countries vowed to limit the rise in average global temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels and make a good-faith effort to stay at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Countries are far from meeting those goals. Current climate pledges would put the world on track for a significantly more hazardous 2.5 degrees Celsius or so of warming by 2100, assuming nations followed through on their plans. In order to keep global warming at safer levels, global emissions would need to plunge roughly 60% by 2035. (NYT, Sept. 8)

Rapid melting in West Antarctica 'unavoidable'

As ocean temperatures continue to rise, rapid melting of West Antarctica's ice shelves now appears "unavoidable," according to new research published in Nature Climate Change. Even under the best-case scenario of cutting emissions from fossil fuels, the ocean will continue to warm, and the ice shelves will experience "widespread increases" in melting, the study's modeling indicates.

"It appears that we may have lost control of the West Antarctic ice shelf melting over the 21st century," study co-author Kaitlin A. Naughten of the British Antarctic Survey told the New York Times. "That very likely means some amount of sea-level rise that we cannot avoid."

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains enough water to cause 5.3 meters of sea level rise, the study notes. (Smithsonian, CNN)

Scientists have for years warned of an imminent climate shift "lock-in."

World's biggest iceberg on the move after 30 years

The world's biggest iceberg is on the move after more than 30 years being stuck to the ocean floor. The iceberg, called A23a, split from the Antarctic coastline in 1986. But it swiftly grounded in the Weddell Sea, becoming, essentially, an ice island. At almost 4,000 square kilometer (1,500 square miles) in area, it's more than twice the size of Greater London. The past year has seen it drifting at speed, and the berg is now about to spill beyond Antarctic waters. (BBC News)