World on Track for 2.4-degree Warming Even After Glasgow Pledges, 'Devastating' Analysis Finds

Most countries haven't implemented the policies or legislation needed to meet long-term climate goals, and the world is on track to blow past the 1.5C warming limit scientists say is needed to avert devastating climate change

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The UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, today.
The UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, today.Credit: Jane Barlow/PA via AP

New national pledges to tackle climate change this decade would lead to around 2.4 degrees Celsius of global warming this century, far above safe levels, analysts predict.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT) said on Tuesday that the promises by countries attending the UN summit in Glasgow to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 would still allow the Earth to heat up far beyond the United Nations target by 2100.

"Even with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5 degrees," it said, referring to the aspirational goal for warming since pre-industrial levels set down in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

"Therefore, all governments need to reconsider their targets."

In an "optimistic scenario" where some countries' longer-term goals to stop increasing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – "net-zero" – by 2050 or later were implemented, warming could be limited to 1.8C this century, CAT added. This echoed an analysis last week by the International Energy Agency.

CAT warned against assuming the longer-term pledges would be met, however, since most countries have not yet implemented the short-term policies or legislation required to get on track for those goals.

"It's all very well for leaders to claim they have a net-zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these 'net-zero' targets are just lip service to real climate action," said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, one of the organizations behind the CAT.

Under "business as usual", without any of the new pledges, the world would warm up by 2.7C this century, CAT said.

All scenarios will blow past the 1.5C limit that scientists say the world must meet to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change.

To keep to that, scientists have said global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas, must fall 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and hit net zero by 2050.

Greenpeace said the analysis was "devastating" and called on countries to agree to update their 2030 targets every year until the gap between their pledges and the 1.5C target was closed.

Some 90 percent of global emissions are now covered by a net zero target, but the "vast majority" of countries' climate plans for the next decade are inconsistent with long-term net zero targets, CAT said.

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