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Nations nowhere close to halting ‘catastrophic’ climate change

Nations nowhere close to halting ‘catastrophic’ climate change

New report shows current pledges to cut greenhouse gasses will not prevent global warming to extremely dangerous levels.

Commitments to halt greenhouse gas emissions are currently nowhere near stopping the worst ravages of climate change in the years to come, a new report indicated on Wednesday, as world leaders prepare to haggle over what action to take and who will pay for it.

Even if countries meet their commitments – still a very big if – this will only reduce fossil fuel emissions by 40 percent by 2050, said the International Energy Agency (IEA).

That means a temperature rise of about 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.8 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 – a figure the United Nations recently said would be “catastrophic” for the planet and all its inhabitants.

Will Steffen, a climate expert at the Australian National University, said the IEA report makes it clear that the current goal of “net zero emissions” by 2050 – as many countries are committing to – is simply too little, too late.

“We have to move very quickly and very decisively now towards renewable energy. I think we really need to focus on 2030, and I think globally we need to get emissions down 50 percent – cut them in half – in this decade if we are to have a chance of keeping temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius,” Steffen told Al Jazeera.

“This really is crunch time. It’s going to take a lot of investment, but it has to happen now. We can’t simply talk about it as something down the road.”

‘Low emissions revolution’

In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, nations set a target of staying below 2C (3.6F), and preferably below 1.5C (2.7F), above pre-industrial levels.

If not, the consensus is that extreme weather, including droughts and flooding, will become even more common, sea levels will rise, Arctic ice will diminish, and many plants and animals will be unable to survive.
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