In the run-up to the climate talks in Glasgow, a recent report by the United Nations shows that greenhouse gas concentrations reached a record high last year.
The agency also says that countries are “way off track” when it comes to reducing the speed at which temperatures are increasing, which will eventually reach dangerous levels of warming.
The report, which was produced by the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found that, despite a temporary drop in emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, carbon dioxide levels rose to 413.2 parts per million in 2020 – higher than the average over the last decade.
According to the WMO, if the current rate of temperature increases isn’t capped, it could far exceed the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celcius above the pre-industrial average.
With the US returning to the Paris Agreement and being a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, environmental groups have been more hopeful in recent months.
However, this report, which has been released just days before the COP26 conference on Sunday, says that “ we are way off track” to reach climate goals, and that “we need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life”.
With world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and leaders from other wealthy nations like Canada and Australia, meeting on Sunday, critics point to the lack of consistency in their actions.
For example, so far, wealthy countries have failed to deliver on the pledge they made in 2009, which was to provide $100 billion to poorer countries to finance climate projects.
In addition to this, a poll of economists published in Reuters found that, in order to meet the goals set in the Paris Agreement, investments would be needed of at least 2% – 3% of world output every year until 2050, which is much lower than the current levels.