World’s Pledges To Reduce Carbon Emissions Aren’t Enough To Tackle Climate Change, UN Warns

Countries around the world are pledging to cut their carbon emissions ahead of next month’s climate meeting in Paris, part of a desperate team effort to stave off catastrophic climate change. But even if these promises are kept, they won’t go nearly far enough, according to an analysis released Friday by the United Nations Environment Programme.

In its sixth annual “Emissions Gap” report, the UNEP analyzed pledges submitted by nearly 150 countries, which collectively contributed more than 85 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. The report found that the pledges would amount to only about half of the greenhouse gas emission cuts needed to stabilize warming below dangerous levels by the end of the century.

“That means we’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’ve made some real progress,” said Michael Mann, director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center.

The Paris meeting will take place between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11, and attendees are tasked with shaping the first-ever universal climate pact. Forming the backbone of that pact are these emissions-reduction pledges, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

The United States, one of the nations that contributes the most to global warming, has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by slightly more than one-quarter (relative to 2005 levels) by 2025, the report indicates. China has committed to lowering carbon dioxide emissions “per unit of GDP by 60% to 65%.”

Meanwhile, poorer nations that face some of the biggest threats from climate change have made promises as well. The Maldives, an island chain and one of the countries most threatened by rising sea levels, emits just 0.003 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, yet promises a 10 percent reduction in emissions — up to 24 percent if it gets international resources.

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