As the White House began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, experts are issuing new warnings about the world’s future.
Under the 2015 Paris deal, countries agreed to limit global heating to 2C, or 1.5C if possible. Each country makes a voluntary pledge of climate action, but to date these would result in global temperatures rising by a disastrous 3-4C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in 2018 that emissions, which are still rising, must fall by 50% by 2030 to be on track for 1.5C.
Only the 28 countries of the European Union and a few others including Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine are on track. Of the 184 national Paris pledges made, 136 are judged insufficient in the report, published by the Universal Ecological Fund.
Another problem is many pledges are unlikely to be met, due to the US withdrawing from the Paris agreement, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, reversing environmental policies, or because poorer nations do not get the funding they need – the US and Australia have stopped making such contributions.
“The current pledges made under the Paris Agreement are totally inadequate to put us on a pathway to meet either the 1.5C or the 2C goal,” said the report’s author, Prof Sir Robert Watson, a former IPCC chair and scientific adviser to the UK and US governments. “With just 1C warming so far, we are already seeing some very significant effects. The effects at 3-4C will be very profound on people around the world.”