UN: ‘No credible pathway to 1.5˚C in place’

There is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”, the UN’s environment agency has said, and the failure to reduce carbon emissions means the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”.

The UN environment report analysed the gap between the CO2 cuts pledged by countries and the cuts needed to limit any rise in global temperature to 1.5˚C. Progress has been “woefully inadequate” it concluded.

If the long-term pledges by countries to hit net zero emissions by 2050 were delivered, global temperature would rise by 1.8˚C. But the glacial pace of action means meeting even this temperature limit was not credible, the UN report said.

The report found that existing carbon-cutting policies would cause 2.8˚C of warming, while pledged policies cut this to 2.6˚C. Further pledges, dependent on funding flowing from richer to poorer countries, cut this again to 2.4˚C.

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said:

  • “I’m not preaching one diet over another, but we need to be mindful that if we all want steak every night for dinner, it won’t compute.”
  • “This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast.
  • “We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.”
  • “It is a tall, and some would say impossible, order to reform the global economy and almost halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but we must try,”

Andersen doubts that the necessary emission cuts can be made by 2030.