A new U.N. report sets the stage for high-stakes negotiations at COP28 this month.

by Naveena Sadasivam, Grist

The landmark Paris climate agreement called for nations to keep global temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspiration of limiting it to 1.5 degrees C above the preindustrial average. The benchmarks are supposed to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. But even if countries fulfill their decarbonization pledges in the coming decades, their emissions trajectories put those targets well out of reach, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme.

If countries fully implemented their plans to cut carbon emissions as currently promised under the Paris Agreement framework, the planet will still warm 2.9 degrees Celsius, or 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming a world in which countries also meet their current goals to zero out net carbon emissions in the coming decades, temperatures will still increase about 2.5 degrees C, or 4.5 degrees F, according to the analysis.

Heat wave over a city skyline

“Even in the most optimistic scenario considered in this report, the chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is only 14 percent, and the various scenarios leave open a large possibility that global warming exceeds 2 degrees Celsius or even 3 degrees Celsius,” the report noted.

The analysis found that global emissions need to drop by more than a quarter to keep warming to 2 degrees C in the next seven years. To meet the more ambitious 1.5-degree target, emissions will need to fall by more than 40 percent by 2030. Those cuts should largely come from developed countries and high-income households, which are responsible for the bulk of emissions, the report noted. About 10 percent of individuals contribute to nearly half of all emissions globally.

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