Global pledges to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases are only part of the steps that need to be taken to prevent catastrophe from global warming. This is the warning of the United Nations, ahead of the important high-level COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow, Britain, next week, during which world leaders will try to find a common denominator on actions to combat global warming.
At the Paris climate summit in 2015, world leaders pledged not to allow global warming to rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
But these promises are not matched by their policies, according to a United Nations report published on Tuesday.
The report warns that new commitments to reduce greenhouse gases released ahead of the Glasgow summit will reduce greenhouse gases alone by just 7.5 percent by 2030, compared to previous pledges. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a 55 percent reduction in their release is needed.
“Until now, we have heard political support for friendly plans, but concrete actions are still missing. While we are reaching warming values of 2.5 to 3 degrees Celsius instead of 1.5 to 2”, said Petteri Taalas, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization.
What does this mean for the planet and man? Scientists say that climate change has affected the intensity of the heat scale.
A recent report from the organization Catham House calculated that worldwide, this century deaths of the elderly from heat-related causes have increased by 54 percent, reaching 296,000 deaths in 2018.
“We expect around 400 million people to face heat waves at a level that will make it impossible for them to work outdoors,” says scientist Daniel Quiggin.
Heat waves and droughts have also greatly affected global food security. Crop failures and an increase in diseases, such as the locust plague in East Africa last year, sent prices soaring.
“Over the next 30 years, the demand for food will increase by 50 percent due to the number of people on the planet, but also expectations to eat more meat, especially in countries like China and Southeast Asia. At the same time, we estimate that yields and harvests will drop by 30 percent,” says Mr. Quiggin.
High temperatures cause stronger tropical storms and floods. In the longer term, melting glaciers will raise sea levels, endangering coastal cities.
Major climate changes also bring harsher and longer-term droughts. Rich nations should fulfill their 2015 pledge to financially help poor countries fight climate change, scientists say.
“The ongoing and huge consequences we see from drought, heat waves, agricultural problems bring food insecurity for everyone and cause disease. It is necessary that the country’s finances. There is an interest that the money promised by the powerful states, the 100 billion dollars a year promised in Paris and earlier, starts to be distributed. At the moment, that is not being done,” says Mr Quiggin.
As world leaders prepare for Glasgow, the impacts of climate on the planet and people are increasing and becoming almost irreversible.
Could a new global agreement to reduce emissions be reached in addition to current commitments? The organizer of the summit – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – gave his assessment on Monday.
“I’m worried because it could go wrong. We may not get the deal we need. It is very difficult,” he said.
Scientists say the results of the Glasgow summit will affect every one of us on planet Earth.