Although the coronavirus restrictions have led to a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, they have not slowed climate change, the United Nations notes in a new report.
This year, emissions from fossil fuels are back, the concentration of greenhouse gases continues to increase, and all continents have experienced human-enhanced climate phenomena affecting life, health and livelihoods, Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in the introduction to the United in Science 2021 report.
The report states that significant reductions must be made immediately if global warming can be curbed to 1.5 degrees, Guterres says.
He says the conclusions are a “frightening assessment of how far we are” in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. The agreement in 2015 calls for heating to be kept below two degrees compared to pre-industrial times, while the ideal would be to limit a person’s temperature to about one and a half degrees.
Unless there are immediate, rapid and broad reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it will be impossible to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, Guterres wrote, adding that “the consequences would be catastrophic for people and for the planet.”
In November, the United Nations organizes the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.