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'Sobering Facts' In UN Report Show Global Warming Targets Fading Fast

Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Shutterstock/Christian Kobierski/UNEP)

Meeting the worldwide goal of stalling global warming at a two degree- Celsius increase by 2020 is increasingly unlikely, according a UN Environment Program (UNEP) report released Wednesday.

As countries prepare to gather next week at a major United Nations meeting on climate change in Doha, Qatar, or COP18, the UN released the new report claiming that the concentration of warming gases has increased by an alarming 20 per cent since 2000 -- emphasizing that agreements made in the Kyoto Protocol no longer keep up with the rate of warming.

"Action on climate change needs to be scaled-up and accelerated without delay if the world is to have a running chance of keeping a global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius this century," the UN stated Wednesday.

At the current rate, as a result of subsequently inadequate provisions of Kyoto, global average temperatures could rise by three to five degrees Celsius (5.4 to 9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century -- far greater than the two degrees Celsius originally targeted, said the UN.

At this rate of warming, countries must now cut greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent to about 44 billion tonnes by 2020 from an estimated 50.1 billion tonnes per year now -- a goal that is possible, but one that will take drastic measures to achieve, the report shows.

"The opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt (gigatonne) target is narrowing annually," said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner. The message is "one of great alarm and concern about where we are."

"Even if all countries adhered to the most ambitious level of their commitments, under the strictest rules, the gap between what has been pledged and what is needed will amount to at least 8.0 billion tonnes by 2020," Agence France-Presse reports.

"The sooner countries will do what they promised, the better the situation will be. But even if they do all the things they promised to do, it's still not enough if you want to stay on the path to the two degrees," UNEP expert John Christensen told AFP.

“The sobering fact remains that a transition to a low-carbon, inclusive green economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt target is narrowing annually,” Steiner added.

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