Response to UN Emissions Gap report
Responding to the publication of the UN Emissions Gap report today (31 October 2017) Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:
“This report confirms that the collective national cuts in emissions that have been pledged by governments are not sufficient to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of avoiding dangerous climate change. The last time global mean surface temperature was 2 centigrade degrees higher than pre-industrial levels was about 125,000 years ago when the polar ice caps were much smaller and sea levels around the world were 5 to 10 metres higher than today. The average temperature has not been 3 centigrade degrees higher for millions of years, and is well outside the evolutionary experience of modern humans. It would likely transform the planet, and force the migration of hundreds of millions of people, with associated risks of extended conflict. No countries will be able to escape the impacts of dangerous climate change.
“Countries are aware that the revised pledges that they are due to submit in 2020, when the Paris Agreement takes effect, must have higher ambition and be consistent with the goal of avoiding dangerous climate change. Despite President Trump’s threat for the United States to leave the Paris Agreement, many States, cities and companies have publicly committed to its implementation. Significantly, the coal industry, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, is unlikely to be revived in the United States because it is being displaced by cleaner and cheaper sources of energy.
“Many countries now recognise that the transition to a low-carbon economy will generate sustainable growth and development, with lower poverty and higher living standards. High-carbon economies look increasingly uncompetitive. However, much bigger investments are needed worldwide in technologies and infrastructure that are modern, efficient and clean.
“Even though all countries should be focused on emissions cuts, they should also be making themselves more resilient to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided. In particular, the risks of extreme weather are increasing in many parts of the world. For instance, sea level rise is making storm surges more damaging. In the UK, the risk of heatwaves and flash flooding from heavy rainfall is on the rise. The eight hottest years and five of the six wettest years on record in the UK have all occurred from 2000 onwards. This year is heading to be one of the five warmest years on record for the UK.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
- The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment (https://www.lse.ac.uk/grantham) was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (https://www.granthamfoundation.org/).