In Brief

UN: global emissions must halve to avoid catastrophe

‘Bleak’ global emissions gap report slams collective failure on climate

The United Nations says that massive and immediate cuts in carbon output are necessary if world temperature rises are to be limited to 2C.

In an assessment of the global emissions gap, the UN’s annual report, which explores the disparity between action and intention on climate change, concludes that on current trends, temperatures will rise 3.4C to 3.9C by the end of the century.

“The summary findings are bleak,” the report said. “Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

It added that “major societal and economic transformations need to take place in the next decade to make up for the inaction of the past”.

It calculates that emissions must fall by half by 2030 to give a good chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, beyond which, says The Guardian, “hundreds of millions of people will suffer more heatwaves, droughts, floods and poverty”.

Commenting on the findings, Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program, said: “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”

The Times’ science editor Tom Whipple wrote that there are “only a few options left”. The first is “denial of the science,” the second, is “to claim that warming is not so bad”.

“For the rest of us,” continues Whipple, “the only reasonable reaction… is depression”.

Last month, a report found that just a handful of companies are responsible for more than one-third of global carbon emissions.

It stated that a 20-strong “cohort of state-owned and multinational firms” and their “relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves” can be “directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era”.

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