Countries around the world are failing to live up to their commitments to fight climate change, pointing Earth toward a future marked by more intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves and species extinction, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations.
Just 26 of 193 countries that agreed last year to step up their climate actions have followed through with more ambitious plans. The world’s top two polluters, China and the United States, have taken some action but have not pledged more this year, and climate negotiations between the two have been frozen for months.
Without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the report said, the planet is on track to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels, by 2100.
That’s far higher than the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set by the landmark Paris agreement in 2015, and it crosses the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts significantly increases.
With each fraction of a degree of warming, tens of millions more people worldwide would be exposed to life-threatening heat waves, food and water scarcity, and coastal flooding while millions more mammals, insects, birds and plants would disappear.
Wednesday’s report comes less than two weeks before nations are set to gather at U.N. climate talks in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, to discuss unfulfilled promises and take stock of the fight to stave off environmental catastrophe.
But war in Europe, an international energy crisis, global inflation and political turmoil in countries like Britain and Brazil have distracted leaders and complicated cooperative efforts to tackle climate change. [Continue reading…]