The numbers for climate change are not falling, according to the annual Emissions Gap Report 2022 by the UN environment program. Even more daunting, the risk of heading in the opposite direction is higher than mitigating the current levels.
Climate pledges taken last year remain unfulfilled, putting the world on the path for a calamitous 2.8°C warming by the century's end. Given the current ailing situation of global warming being far from the target, nations will gather in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6th to November 18th, 2022, to discuss global greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
The UN report mentioned that nationally determined contributions (NDCs), country-specific climate policies, haven't fared well, with contributions from only a handful of nations (23 out of 193) since the Cop26 conference. Progress has been essentially nil, with NDCs reporting a mere 0.5 gigatons of CO2 equivalent reduction in 2022, which is less than 1% of the global emissions 2030 target.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide reached record highs last year. Methane, a powerful and dangerous gas that contributed 30% to the increase in the global temperature during the Industrial Revolution, surged by the largest amount ever observed between the years.
"The continuing rise in concentrations of the main heat-trapping gasses, including the record acceleration in methane levels, shows that we are heading in the wrong direction," said Petteri Taalas, WMO Secretary General.
The setback will most likely cause the world to exceed the Paris Agreement's objective of keeping global warming below 2°C, ideally 1.5°C. According to estimates, there is a 66% possibility that unrestricted NDCs will keep global warming to 2.6°C. This number is reduced to 2.4°C for conditional NDCs or those that depend on outside assistance. The best chance of reversing the global catastrophic future is through global net-zero emission efforts and the unconditional full implementation of NDCs. However, such drastic measures will also be able to halt the temperature to a maximum control of 1.8°C. So, while there is room for hope, the window is getting narrower.
UNEP Executive Director, Inger Andersen, stated that the recurrent fatal floods, violent storms, and roaring fires are a message from nature about our uncontrolled levels of greenhouse gas emissions. "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," said Andersen.
Click here to read the official UN Emissions Gap Report 2022.