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Climate crisis: UN finds ‘no credible pathway to 1.5C in place’

Failure to cut carbon emissions means ‘rapid transformation of societies’ is only option to limit impacts, report says

A firefighter sets fire to land in an attempt to prevent wildfires from spreading in Gironde, south-west France.
A firefighter sets fire to land in an attempt to prevent wildfires from spreading in Gironde, south-west France. A rise in global temperature of 1C to date has already contributed to climate disasters. Photograph: Thibaud Moritz/AFP/Getty Images

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 1.5C, the internationally agreed target. Progress has been “woefully inadequate” it concluded.

Current pledges for action by 2030, if delivered in full, would mean a rise in global heating of about 2.5C and catastrophic extreme weather around the world. A rise of 1C to date has caused climate disasters in locations from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.

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

Countries agreed at the Cop26 climate summit a year ago to increase their pledges. But with Cop27 looming, only a couple of dozen have done so and the new pledges would shave just 1% off emissions in 2030. Global emissions must fall by almost 50% by that date to keep the 1.5C target alive.

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

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