Global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions need to increase fivefold if the world is to limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, the UN has warned.
Emissions of greenhouse gas hit a new high last year, according to the UN Environment Programme’s annual Emissions Gap Report.
The 1.5 degree figure is considered to be the best chance of limiting the impact of increased droughts, floods and threats to wildlife from climate change.
The report says global emissions need to be cut by 7.6 per cent every year in the next decade if the target is to be met.
At current emissions levels, the world is on track to warm by 3.2 degrees celsius, a temperature at which scientists have predicted could shrink Greenland’s ice sheet and leave significant parts of Asia underwater.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.
On Monday the UN warned that the amount of greenhouse gases which stay in the atmosphere long-term as a result of emissions, reached a record high last year.
The report names the United Kingdom as one of the few countries to have adopted legislation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
But a parliamentary report earlier this year warned that the ambition was at risk of being derailed and called for greater investment in low-emissions vehicles and technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
The UNEP report says “lifestyle changes” will be necessary to achieve emissions targets, but highlights a growing social awareness of the challenges of climate change, and increasing technological solutions.
More than 70 per cent of British consumers believe that protecting the environment is more important than economic growth, according to a survey by Dutch bank ING.
This year will see the largest drop in global coal use, a report this week from UK-based researchers Carbon Brief said. The 3 per cent drop, which is attributed to the increase in renewable energies, as well as nuclear and gas, is more than the output of the UK, Germany and Spain combined.
The UNEP report comes just days before a climate summit in Madrid, at which nations will discuss the best ways to put the Paris agreement into effect.
The UK will next year host a key meeting at which the Paris climate agreement will come into effect.
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