Major carbon-emitting countries including Canada need to dramatically increase efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions which currently show no signs of peaking, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.
Emission-reduction targets made by governments under the 2015 Paris climate accord, if achieved, would still leave the world facing a grim future of rising seas, widespread species extinction and a host of threats to human health and livelihoods, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in its annual “emissions gap” report.
However, most of the largest emitting countries – including Canada and the United States – are not on track to achieve their current emissions targets, let alone adopt tougher ones as proposed under the Paris accord, the report said. The UN agency urged governments to adopt a wide range of policies such as higher carbon taxes and reductions in fossil-fuel subsidies that include tax breaks for oil and gas production.
“The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency,” UNEP deputy executive director Joyce Msuya said in a release. “We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”
The UN agency published its emissions-gap report in advance of next month’s Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting where government ministers will gather to work on implementing the Paris climate accord. The 2015 treaty aims to limit the rise in temperatures to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most punishing effects of climate change.