Global Disaster is Nearly Inevitable

Latest United Nations report promises disaster if global emissions aren’t cut immediately.

On Tuesday, November 27th, the United Nations released their annual Emissions Gap Report.  The point of the report is to record the progress (or lack thereof) countries are making in fulfilling their respective contributions to 2015’s Paris Climate Agreement.  The agreement sets many objectives, one being limiting greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of no more than a 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) global increase over the next 81 years. Unfortunately, this year’s report reveals that we on track to see a temperature increase that is 1.2 degrees Celsius above that goal.  While the number may seem insignificant, it is far from it. In fact, it is the largest emissions gap that has ever been projected. A temperature rise of 3.2 degrees by 2100 would be incredibly perilous for human beings.  This has been proven time and time again by the world’s most prestigious scientific bodies, all of whom guarantee a temperature increase of this nature would considerably increase the chance of major climate disasters, (e.g. mass extinctions, acidifying oceans, mass droughts, and sea level rise).  Additionally, it is important to note that humans have never lived in temperatures as high as those forecast in the report.

"If we start warming the planet way beyond what humans have ever experienced, God knows what will wait for us..." - Carlo Jaeger, chair of the Global Climate Forum.

The solution? The nearly 200 nations participating in the Paris Climate Agreement must triple their planned emission cuts to reach the 2-degree goal.  However, aware that attaining this goal is now improbable, the report stresses the importance of the participation of “non-state actors,” such as regional, state, and city governments as well as civil organizations, investors, and private companies.  The UN argues that these entities can "build confidence in governments concerning climate policy and push for more ambitious national goals." The report also points to policy reform as a critical force. It suggests that taxing fossil fuels and subsidizing low-emission alternatives will incentivize low-carbon investments.  So while there are a number of tactics nations could employ to reverse the current, dangerous trajectory, things are not looking good. For Earth to be a safe place for humans, every country must do their part to limit emissions. If not, disaster is inevitable.

Oliver SperansComment