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Global warming could reach ‘tipping point’, warns UN – Environment Analyst

Carbon reduction pledges for 2030 need to be increased seven-fold to limit global warming to 1.5°C, report says

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A UN-sponsored report has warned that accelerating climate disruption threatens the planet’s most vulnerable populations and could lead to social unrest in cities.

The report, United in Science 2022, is based on information from multiple UN agencies including the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It says that floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are becoming more frequent

This summer has seen heatwaves in Europe and India, wildfires in France, severe flooding in Pakistan and droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States. For the first time on record, temperatures in the UK exceeded 40°C. 

Antonio Guterres, United Nations secretary general, said that these events are “the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction”.

The report reveals that the average global temperature last year was 1.17°C above pre-industrial levels. The world is heading for 2.8°C of warming by the end of this century, or 2.5°C if climate action pledges are nor fully implemented.

As temperatures continue to rise, it says that ‘tipping points’ cannot be ruled out, such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet or the slowing of the Atlantic warm water circulation currents.

Carbon reduction pledges for 2030, it argues, need to be increased sevenfold to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and fourfold to 2°C, if Paris agreement climate targets for 2050 are to be met.

In brief:

• Greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 1.2% higher than before the pandemic in 2019

• The past seven years were the warmest on record. There is a now a 48% chance of exceeding 1.5°C warming in at least one of the next 5 years

• The number of weather, climate, and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 60 years

• By 2050, more than 1.6 billion people living in cities will be regularly exposed to three-month average temperatures of at least 35°C 

The agencies which contributed to the report are the WMO, Global Atmosphere Watch, the World Weather Research Programme, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Carbon Project, the UK Met Office, and the Urban Climate Change Research Network.

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