As countries convene at climate summit in Egypt, reports show the world is wildly off track. Here’s what to watch at COP27
COP27, the UN’s flagship climate conference, wrapped up its third year Thursday, and the world is wildly off track.
The world missed its 2015 target to cut emissions by 5.2% this year and 3.6% in 2020, and the United States and some other countries say meeting the goal will require major adjustments.
Those who believe that the world can avert climate catastrophe need to be careful about what they read.
The story of this year’s COP, as it happens, began back in earnest a year ago. That’s when the Paris Agreement was struck, after years of negotiations by nearly 200 nations to avert the worst consequences of global warming, including more extreme storms, massive wildfires and floods, and the potential for oceans to rise as much as 3.2 metres by the end of the century.
The agreement, a non-binding instrument known as COP21, committed countries to limiting global greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the rise in the average temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Yet global emissions have grown by 6.8% since then, exceeding the target by more than a half a degree. And despite the Paris targets, the world is on track to reach a much warmer climate than scientists initially predicted.
Countries pledged to take far stronger action, cutting global emissions by at least 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
There is no such thing as a two-degree target, however. The Paris Agreement’s objective is to keep global warming to 2°C, not 2.5°C. And in the months leading up to COP27, the world’s top scientific advisers sounded the alarm on several fronts.
Some researchers warned that climate change is speeding up the rate that ice caps are melting, particularly in the Arctic. In the tropics, coral reefs are showing signs of stress. And some scientists warned that human-caused climate change is already wre