Scientists respond to UN ‘global stocktake’ report on climate change.
Prof Daniela Schmidt, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, said:
“The fact that emissions have peaked in some countries shows that this target can be achieved. As global emissions are rising though, we need to accept that we will likely pass the 1.5 C Paris target. But even if the Paris Agreement target is temporarily passed, it is fundamental to ensure that the duration will be a short as possible and to remember that the impacts associated with 1.7C are still less than with 2C. Of significant importance is working with nature and not only slowing down but reversing deforestation.
“Increasing impacts are experienced all around the world now and hence every increment of warming avoided matters. This is not just stating the obvious for future climate change but also the now given losses of lives and damages to nature and infrastructure. Therefore we have to adapt to the current warming and its impacts, and the further warming we have committed, to ensure that those most vulnerable are not further impacted.”
Prof Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology, University College London (UCL), said:
“The UN Synthesis report on the global stocktake makes it clear that the Paris Agreement was a game changer. With almost every country in the world engaged in setting emission targets and taking climate action. But the country emission reduction pledges or NDCs are not in line with the Paris Agreement, 1.5˚C aspirational temperature target, and window of opportunity to remain below this limit is closing fast. The UN calls for greater ambition in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but doing so within the context of sustainable development and the eradication of extreme poverty. The UN estimates that global we need to reduce global GHG emissions by 43% by 2030 and further by 60% by 2035 compared to 2019 levels and reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 globally. This is a huge ask given that greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest level ever in 2022. COP28 in Dubai will be a critical meeting at which the global stocktake is presented and a road map for these significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will have to be made. The UN report calls on every country to make more ambitious pledges and that all governments need to support systems transformations that mainstream climate resilience and low GHG emissions development. All the technology exists to undergo the net zero transformation but the huge increases in renewables, EVs and batteries has to be even more rapid to make the huge cuts suggested by the UN – estimates are we need everything to happen 5 times faster.”
Prof Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero, University of Cambridge, said:
“This emissions gap is a screaming call for action that comes ahead of a key meeting of global leaders in New York, where the UN Secretary-General is holding his Climate Ambition Summit during Climate Week NYC and the UN General Assembly. We now need to see an acceleration on emissions reduction in line with what the science demands.”
Prof Euan Nisbet, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, said:
“This is an important UN report, that should be set reading for those attending the G20 meeting.
“Its key finding that “while action is proceeding, much more is needed now on all fronts” is perhaps understatement of the year. The report is clear that global emissions are not in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and that much more ambition is needed to implement mitigation measures.
“As the Report says, “rapidly scaling up the mobilization of support for climate action in developing countries is necessary”. That will help, especially in switching to renewable energy and power. But I’m African, and understand the critical importance of local support for climate action. While governments plead for buckets of money, it doesn’t cost much to bulldoze soil over a stinking, burning landfill. One of the Report’s key findings is that adaptation needs to be “informed and driven by local contexts”. The real key to mitigation is local support – driven by local skills and local advocacy. Aid will help, but local capacity and local advocacy are much more important.”
Prof David Reay, Professor of Carbon Management and Executive Director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, University of Edinburgh, said:
“This landmark Global Stocktake is clear: we have the tools to close the emissions gap and so meet the Paris Climate Goals; what we seem to be lacking is the political courage to use them.”
Prof Joeri Rogelj, Professor of Climate Science & Policy and Director of Research at the Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment, Imperial College London, said:
“The report sketches a worrying picture of overpromising and underdelivering on climate action. Be it on mitigation, adaptation, or means of implementation (finance), the report highlights how current actions are falling short of what is required to meet the goals that governments agreed in the Paris climate agreement in 2015. This includes the clear understanding that current pledges are failing to limit warming well below 2°C let alone to 1.5°C. This technical information now serves as a key input to the political UN climate discussions which by the end of the year will conclude their first ‘Global Stocktake’ of climate action under the Paris Agreement. Ideally that conclusion will not only consist of a diagnosis of the troubling situation the world finds itself in, but also provide steps forward such as commitments to implement the required near-term emissions reductions and financial support to accelerate action globally.”
Emissions gap statement explanation:
“NDCs don’t deliver the emissions reductions required by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C. Assuming all countries implement their current NDCs, emissions in 2030 would be 20 to 24 GtCO2e higher than where they should be to be in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. The larger number (24 GtCO2e) is if only those emissions reductions from NDCs are achieved to which countries commit unconditionally. Several countries also put forward targets in their NDCs that are conditional on the provision of finance. If these conditional NDC targets are achieved, the gap is still 20 GtCO2e.”