【Report】Global GHG emissions break records, enhancement of climate pledges required

On November 20, 2023, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report ahead of the 2023 COP28 climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The “Emissions Gap Report 2023: Broken Record – Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again),” finds that nations must go further than current Paris pledges or face global warming of 2.5-2.9°C and global low-carbon transformations are needed to deliver cuts to predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions of 28% for a 2°C pathway and 42% for a 1.5°C pathway.

Until the beginning of October 2023, 86 days this year were recorded with temperatures over 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. September was the hottest recorded month ever, with global average temperatures 1.8°C above pre-industrial levels. The report finds that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by 1.2% from 2021 to 2022 to reach a new record of 57.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), and GHG emissions across the G20 increased by 1.2 per cent in 2022.

If mitigation efforts implied by current policies are continued at today’s levels, global warming will only be limited to 3°C above pre-industrial levels in this century. Fully implementing efforts implied by unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would put the world on track for limiting temperature rise to 2.9°C, and conditional NDCs fully implemented would limit it to 2.5°C above pre-industrial levels. All of these are with a 66% chance.

*An unconditional target, which they implement with domestic resources; and. A conditional target with higher emissions reductions, subject to achieving international support.

Current unconditional NDCs imply that additional emissions cuts of 14 GtCO2e are needed in 2030 over predicted levels for 2°C, and cuts of 22 GtCO2e are needed for 1.5°C. The implementation of conditional NDCs reduces both these estimates by 3 GtCO2e. In percentage terms, the world needs to cut 2030 emissions by 28% to get on track to achieve the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, and 42% for the 1.5°C goal (with a 66% chance).

If all conditional NDCs and long-term net-zero pledges were met, limiting the temperature rise to 2°C would be possible. However, net-zero pledges are not currently considered credible: none of the G20 countries are reducing emissions at a pace consistent with their net-zero targets. Even in the most optimistic scenario, the likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5°C is only 14%.

“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 it demands a just, equitable renewables transition.”

Antònio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

“There is no person or economy left on the planet untouched by climate change, so we need to stop setting unwanted records on greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature highs and extreme weather.” “We must instead lift the needle out of the same old groove of insufficient ambition and not enough action, and start setting other records: on cutting emissions, on green and just transitions and on climate finance.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP

Related Links
Emission Gap Report 2023 (with video) (Link)
UNEP Press Release (Link)

Published by: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Published: 11 November 2023