UN Warns 2.7 Degrees of Warming if Nations Don't Increase Climate Commitments

Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate

Just a month and a half after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported a "code red" for the world to combat climate, the UN announced on Friday that recent climate action plans submitted by 191 countries won't come close to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Without improved commitments, the world is on track to warm 2.7 degrees by 2100, but humanity won't have to wait 80 years to see its effects.

Why This Matters

While 86 nations submitted new plans this year, some of the world's largest emitters, including India and China, haven't updated their plans. So far, the plans submitted could curb emissions by 12%, but without more ambitious commitments from major polluters, GHG emissions could rise by 16%, resulting in a net increase in emissions. "The 16% increase is a huge cause of concern," said Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "It is in sharp contrast with the calls by science for rapid, sustained and large-scale emission reductions to prevent the most severe climate consequences and suffering, especially of the most vulnerable, throughout the world."

Missing in Action

Seventy countries have yet to submit updated and more ambitious climate plans, including China, which produces about 30% of the world's emissions and has recently doubled down on its coal aspirations. The US is also falling behind; according to a recent analysis by Climate Action Tracker, its climate plan is "insufficient" to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

On Friday, President Biden hosted the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, hoping to nudge other nations to raise climate ambition. "I need to tell you the consequences of inaction," he told leaders. "We don’t have a lot of time." The US and the EU also announced on Friday a global agreement to cut methane emissions 30% by 2030, which experts say offers a quick route to reducing warming.

Still, if countries, especially major emitters like the US and China, don't increase their climate commitments, the consequences will be dire. "There is a high risk of failure of COP26," warned UN Secretary General António Guterres. "It is clear that everyone must assume their responsibilities."

UN: A major new UN climate report issues a code red for humanity, August 10, 2021.

WW0: All Roads Lead to Glasgow, April 28, 2021.