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Big gaps in plans to tackle climate change, researchers say

October 26, 2022

Two reports warn about the utter lack of progress in efforts to tackle climate change and point out that the world faces devastating consequences as a result of inaction.

A woman drinks a plum and tamarind drink to cool off during a heatwave, in Jacobabad, Pakistan, May 14, 2022.
Heatwaves and droughts will become more pronounced if governments do little to curb warmingImage: Akhtar Soomro/REUTERS

Climate researchers sounded the alarm on Wednesday, saying too little was being done to contain temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the threshold after which climate risks heighten.

World leaders agreed to the 1.5-degree threshold at the Paris climate deal in 2015 and agreed to speed up their pledge to cut carbon pollution this decade at last year's UN climate conference in Glasgow.

But a report by the United Nations on Wednesday said only 24 out of 193 countries updated their plans.

It comes as leaders prepare to gather in Egypt for the United Nation's annual climate change conference in November.

New reports on climate action

Another major report on Wednesday, published by a number of leading climate trackers and organizations said warming was already at 1.2 degrees Celsius.

The report, published under the banner of Systems Change Lab, was the result of work by several institutes, including the Bezos Earth Fund, Climate Action Tracker and the World Resources Institute.

The report quantified the gaps in global climate inaction by identifying 40 indicators of systems change required for keeping temperatures below the 1.5-degree mark.

Systemic failure to curb global warming

Of the 40 indicators — ranging from power generation and transport to deforestation and finance —  the report found none were on track to reach their 2030 targets.

The power sector was the biggest source of harmful carbon dioxide emissions, with major economies doubling the amounts spent on fossil fuel production between 2020 and 2021.

Coal, one of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels, accounted for nearly 40% of electricity generation, the report said.

The report added that the unabated use of coal in electricity generation would have to be phased out six times faster than recent global rates.

"The hard truth is that none of the 40 indicators we assessed are on track to achieve their 2030 targets," said Sophia Boehm, a researcher at the Systems Change Lab.

The 200-page report identified specific scope for progress, saying a reduction in the annual deforestation rate must accelerate 2.5 times faster and public transport systems such as metros, light-rail and bus networks have to expand six times faster.

Even if 2030 climate goals were fully implemented, the world was still looking at heating by 2.4°C to 2.8°C by end of the century, researchers warned.

Climate financing insufficient

Meanwhile, researchers noted governments and private institutions were failing to deliver on the Paris Agreement goals of aligning financial flows with keeping temperatures within the 1.5 degrees limit.

Emerging markets and global economies have already met with elevated commodity prices, with the World Bank saying Tuesday that developing economies were still looking at even higher volatility. 

Climate ministers from European Union countries on Monday agreed to raise their target next year to curb greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, but the specifics would have to wait until the bloc finished negotiating several new emission-cutting laws.

European countries, relatedly, have also been debating capping gas prices for weeks to tackle rising energy prices as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

AFP material contributed to this report.

Edited by: Sean Sinico

Roshni Majumdar Roshni is a writer at DW's online breaking news desk and covers stories from around the world.@RoshniMaj