In the wake of the first three meetings to discuss implementation of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations climate secretariat has released its synthesis report, part of a process known as the global stocktake. This report stresses the urgency of climate action and calls for more ambitious strategies. Acknowledging that we are failing to meet agreed-upon goals, the UN report finds that ambition and implementation must be accelerated rapidly. The World Resources Institute offers a more blunt assessment, calling it a "truly damning report card for global climate efforts."
UN member states have set a goal of limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The goal set under the Paris Agreement, as adopted in 2015, was originally to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”. However, scientists have since argued that crossing the 1.5°C threshold would unleash extreme climate events and likely irreversible damage, leading to a revision of this goal. Commitment to this updated goal was reaffirmed in 2022 at the COP27 conference.
Despite a near-universal understanding of the risks associated with exceeding this 1.5°C threshold, the global stocktake has concluded that we are far from meeting these goals. As the New York Times reports, "Current climate pledges would put the world on track for a significantly more hazardous 2.5 degrees Celsius or so of warming by 2100, assuming nations followed through on their plans."
International agreements and national climate policies are evidently necessary, but to date they have failed to deliver on their promises. It is clear that we need to find new ways to trigger transformative change through all systems and at all levels of government.
Photo by Nick Humphries, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)