According to a UN report published on Monday, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has reached record highs. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2020 was 149% higher than levels before industrialisation, according to the WMO (World Meterological Organisation). The last time Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago
The findings add even more urgency to the upcoming COP26 climate talks, as they have exposed that the planet is well on course for surpassing the Paris Agreement’s target of a 1.5-2 degree temperature increase by the end of the century. ‘We are way off track’, stated WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas.
What’s even more worrying is the inaction by many large and responsible nations ahead of COP26, especially now its importance has become much more pivotal with this new information. China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, unveiled its climate ‘road map’ on Sunday, which was in absence of a pledge to cut emissions. Other G20 countries including India, Australia, Brazil, and Mexico, have also not increased their pledges.
In 2015, the 192 parties signed onto the Paris agreement agreed to submit new pledges – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) – ahead of COP26. So far, 143 parties have done so. Whilst the pledges of these 143 are set to equate to a 9% decrease in emissions between 2010-30, when you include all 192 parties – adding on those which have not updated their NDC’s, or those which updated them with the same or decreased pledge – emissions are set to increase by 16% in that same period. Considering scientist say the world needs to halve its emissions over this decade to meet the Paris agreement’s targets, things are definitely not looking good.
Such increase in emissions may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7 degrees by the end of the century, the UN report said.