Paris Agreement on climate change: We must break our old habits of lack of ambition and action

Ten days before the start of COP28, the United Nations climate change conference, a new UN report highlights the modest progress made since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. If all countries were to meet their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there would still be a future average global temperature rise of 2.5 to 2.9°C, the report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says.

This means there's still a lot of work to be done if we are to achieve the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement: limiting temperature rise to well below 2°C, and ideally to 1.5°C. This requires a 28 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to limit warming to 2°C and a 42 per cent reduction to meet the 1.5°C goal.

Crushing records

The report comes as the atmosphere shows increasing signs of overheating. In 2023, the number of daily temperature records rose, with 86 records broken by early October, while September was the warmest month ever recorded. Greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for global warming, rose by a further 1. 2 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021, reaching a new record of 57.4 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to UNEP.

"We must start setting new records: on emissions reductions, on green and just transitions, and on climate finance"

Instead of breaking records on greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures, "we must break our old habits of lack of ambition and action and start setting new records: on emissions reductions, on green and just transitions, and on climate finance," said Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director, in a press release.

In this context, COP28, which starts in Dubai on 30 November, is seen as one of the last chances to change course this decade. IPCC scientists believe this is crucial if we limit long-term global warming to +1.5°C.


The carcass of a cow lies on the ground in Hargududo, Ethiopia, April 2022 © PHOTO EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP

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