The world’s efforts to slow climate change are falling short of the reality of the situation, a new UN report warns.
But to avoid the worst effects of climate change, there is a growing gap between what countries should be doing and what is actually happening, according to a report by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization released on Tuesday.
Countries’ targets to cut their global-warming emissions over the next decade must be quadrupled to keep global temperature rises below 2°C, the upper limit on warming set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement d. Targets would need to be seven times higher for the world to meet the headline target set in 2015 to keep warming below 1.5°C, according to the report.
“This year’s United in Science report shows that climate impacts are heading into uncharted territories of destruction,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message commenting on the report’s findings.
“This year’s report shows that we are still a long way off.”
The report outlines several instances of catastrophic climate impacts this year, including droughts affecting large parts of China and the US and extreme storms causing flooding in Central Asia.
But the report also warns that much worse is likely to happen in the next decade and beyond if national policies are not strengthened to meet the demands of the climate crisis.
The report found that average temperatures over the next five years are almost certain to be hotter than the previous five, while there is almost a 50% chance that global temperatures will temporarily exceed the 1.5°C mark for the first time before 2027. grow every year.
The worst effects of higher temperatures will be felt in cities, the report says, where more than 1.6 billion people will have to endure at least three months of the year in temperatures averaging above 35 °C (95 °F) by 2050 d. Heatwaves like these are expected to become much more common in places unaccustomed to such weather, as happened this summer when high temperatures in the UK caused airport tarmac to melt.
The report also found that current policies are insufficient to ensure that the world does not trigger a so-called “climate tipping point” when warming temperatures begin to create self-perpetuating and irreversible changes in the global climate.
Tipping points include the collapse of massive ice sheets, leading to even faster rates of sea-level rise, or the drying of the Amazon rainforest, leading to the loss of one of the world’s most effective natural sinks of atmospheric carbon. Some of these tipping points may occur significantly sooner than once thought, as a recent study found that five tipping points could likely fall at current rates of warming, followed by six more after the world reaches 1. 5 °C warming.
The report found that while recent climate policies have helped slow greenhouse gas emissions, they still fall short of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. With current policies, the world is likely to reach 2.8 °C of warming by 2100. If current pledges are implemented into policy, warming can be limited to 2.5 °C.
As climate impacts grow more severe with each passing year, the UN has redoubled its calls for increased funding to help build resilience against the more catastrophic effects of warming, mainly through a new early warning system developed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which will create more effective risk management systems.
“The report is a shameful reminder that building resilience is the neglected half of the climate equation,” Guterres said. “It is scandalous that developed countries have failed to take adaptation seriously and have neglected their commitments to help the developing world.”
More than a decade ago, rich nations pledged to provide $100 billion a year in climate resilience funds to poor countries by 2020. That goal has not been met, and while countries renewed the commitment at last year’s Glasgow climate summit, Guterres said that this is no longer enough, outlining plans to provide $300 billion a year in climate adaptation funds by 2030.
“It’s a moral imperative, but it’s also a matter of common sense,” Guterres said, referring to the human dividends of helping vulnerable countries deal with climate change.
Guterres also promised to develop an “early warning” system to protect against extreme weather that would be available worldwide within five years. The WCO will lead the development of this system, which the UN has called a “fast and cost-effective” way to help save lives and reduce losses while mobilizing more funding.
“Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events we experience have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change,” WCO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
“It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities.”
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