COP27: Key climate goal of 1.5C rise faces new challenge

Emissions of CO2 are rising so quickly there is now a 50% chance the world will cross a crucial climate change threshold soon, a new report suggests. Emissions for 2022 are expected to remain at record levels, lifted by people flying again after Covid. The report said that if emissions stay so high, the world faces a 50% risk of breaching a key 1.5C temperature rise threshold in nine years.

This would have sweeping consequences for poorer and developing countries.

Average temperatures are now 1.1C above pre-industrial levels, and that increase has already caused major climate disasters this year.

If global average temperatures were to rise to more than 1.5C, the UN says it would expose millions more people to potentially devastating climate impacts.

The researchers have said emissions were rising in 2022 because of an increase in flying and the use of coal.

The report, published by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), used monthly energy data to estimate that global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 1% this year. 

This is in stark contrast to a recent UN report that global emissions need to fall by 45% by 2030 to keep temperatures below 1.5C.

Nations agreed in 2015 to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The UN climate body, the IPCC, has said keeping temperature rises below 1.5C, rather than 2C, would mean:

  • 10 million fewer people would lose their homes to rising sea levels
  • a 50% reduction in the number of people experiencing water insecurity
  • a reduction in coral reef loss from 99% to 70%

The GCP report – prepared by more than 70 scientists – is launched today at the UN climate summit COP27 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where countries are in the middle of climate change negotiations. 

Dr Robin Lamboll, Research Associate in Climate Science and Policy at Imperial College London said: “The report should remind negotiators at COP27 that their actions so far have been inadequate.”

At last year’s Glasgow climate summit, COP26, countries were asked to prepare more ambitious targets before coming to Egypt – but only 29 turned up with new plans.

And on Thursday, another group of climate experts at Climate Action Tracker predicted that even with these new pledges, world temperatures would rise 2.7C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.