Photo by Unsplash/ Caleb Cook
SPEECH DELIVERED BY: Inger Andersen
FOR: Launch of Emissions Gap Report 2023
LOCATION: Nairobi, Kenya
Humanity is breaking all the wrong records on climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions and the global average temperature are hitting new highs, while extreme weather events are occurring more often, developing faster and becoming more intense. The 2023 edition of the Emissions Gap Report tells us that it’s going to take a massive and urgent shift to avoid these records falling year after year – and to avoid UNEP and others coming back to issue the same unheeded warnings, like a broken record.
The headline figures of the Emissions Gap Report are hugely concerning. Climate change pledges for 2030 put the world on track for limiting the global temperature rise to between 2.5 to 2.9°C above pre-industrial levels in this century. The cuts required to 2030 greenhouse gas emissions are 28-42 per cent for the Paris Agreement’s 2°C pathway and 1.5°C pathway respectively. We are already at the outer limits of the possibility for 1.5°C, with only a 14 per cent chance of avoiding overshoot in even the most optimistic scenario.
Change must come faster in the form of economy-wide, low-carbon development transformations, with a strong focus on energy. The coal, oil and gas extracted over the lifetime of producing and planned mines and fields would wipe out almost the whole remaining carbon budget for 2°C – and obliterate the 1.5°C budget many times over. Governments can’t keep pledging to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement and then greenlighting huge fossil fuels projects; this is throwing the global energy transition, and humanity’s future, into question.
Countries with greater capacity and responsibility for generating emissions will need to take more ambitious action and provide financial and technical support to developing nations. Low- and middle-income countries, which already account for more than two-thirds of global emissions, must meet their legitimate development needs and aspirations with low-emission growth trajectories.
If we don’t make the cuts outlined in this report, we’re going to need to gear up for an even larger effort in the 2030s. The Nationally Determined Contributions for 2035, which are due in 2025, are going to have to be strong, credible and able to set the stage for net-zero pledges to bring emissions down hard and fast. The first Global Stocktake, concluding at COP28 in Dubai this year, will inform these new pledges.
Carbon dioxide removal, which this year’s report explores, will also be needed more in the future. However, there are many risks with new methods of carbon dioxide removal, one of the main ones being that the technology isn’t in place yet.
Essentially, the longer we wait, the harder it’s going to be. The world needs to lift the needle out of the groove of insufficient action and begin setting new records on cutting emissions, green and just transitions and climate finance – starting now.
20 NOV 2023 SPEECH CLIMATE ACTION
Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
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