Major polluters far off climate targets | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 21, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:24 AM, November 21, 2019

Major polluters far off climate targets

Says UN; new analysis shows climate impacts to cost world $7.9 trillion by 2050

The world’s major fossil fuel producers are set to bust global environmental goals with excessive coal, oil and gas extraction in the next decade, the United Nations and research groups said yesterday.

The 10 nations in focus, including superpowers China and the United States, plan to produce fuels by 2030 at levels between 50-120% over Paris Agreement targets, the study showed.

Under that 2015 global pact, nations committed to a long-term goal of limiting the average temperature increase to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But by 2030, the 10 countries’ planned production would lead to 39 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide emissions, 53% higher than what is needed to reduce temperature rises to 2C and 21 Gt, or 120%, more than is needed for 1.5C, the report said.

Other countries analysed included Russia, India, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, Germany, Norway and Britain.

“The world’s energy supply remains dominated by coal, oil and gas, driving emission levels that are inconsistent with climate goals,” said United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen.

As well as UNEP, the report was produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Overseas Development Institute, and the CICERO Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research and Climate Analytics.

It created a new metric called “the fossil fuel production gap” highlighting the difference between rising production and the decline needed to restrict global warming, reported Reuters.

The gap was largest for coal, with countries planning to produce 150% more in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting warming to 2C, and 280% more than would limit warming to 1.5C.

“The continued expansion of fossil fuel production - and the widening of the global production gap - is underpinned by a combination of ambitious national plans, government subsidies to producers, and other forms of public finance,” the report said.

$7.9 TRILLION BY 2050

Climate change could directly cost the world economy $7.9 trillion by mid-century as increased drought, flooding and crop failures hamper growth and threaten infrastructure, new analysis showed yesterday.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Climate Change Resilience Index measured the preparedness of the world’s 82 largest economies and found that based on current trends the fallout of warming temperatures would shave off three percent of global GDP by 2050.

Its analysis, which assesses each country’s direct exposure to loss as climate change brings more frequent extreme weather events, found Africa was most at-risk, with 4.7 percent of its GDP in the balance.

In general, developing nations faired poorer in terms of resiliency than richer ones.

“Being rich matters,” John Ferguson, EIU country analysis director, told AFP.

“Richer nations are really able to be more resilient towards the impacts of climate change, so this really threatens growth trajectories of the developing world as they try to catch up with the developed world.”

“When we are already dealing with global inequality, for the impacts of climate change the developing world’s challenges are much greater,” he added.

Of the countries evaluated, Angola stood to lose the most -- as much as 6.1 percent of gross domestic product.

The study put this down to a mixture of a lack of quality infrastructure, as well as its geographical exposure to severe drought, soil erosion and rising sea levels.

Land degradation in Angola would prove a “significant” economic hindrance, the report said, given that agriculture is its largest employer.

Nigeria (5.9 percent negative GDP), Egypt (5.5 percent), Bangladesh (5.4 percent) and Venezuela (5.1 percent) were the next most climate vulnerable nations identified in the analysis.

ACT NOW, AND LATER

The analysis said rising temperatures meant the global economy was projected to hit $250 trillion by 2050, as opposed to $258 trillion with no climate impact.

While the United States -- still the world’s largest economy at market rates -- is forecast to be one of the least impacted, the EIU noted that President Donald Trump’s policies represented a “temporary setback” in the climate fight.

Russia was predicted to lose five percent of GDP by 2050 and will “suffer more than most other countries in the world from the negative effects of climate change”, it said. This held true even when potential benefits in increased agriculture were taken into account.

Melting permafrost -- threatening infrastructure such as hydrocarbon pipelines -- was forecast to be among the biggest drags on Russia’s economy in the coming decades.

Nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to work to limit temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius, and 1.5-C if possible.

To do so, the global economy must rapidly decrease its greenhouse gas emissions -- a source of controversy in developing nations which say their economic growth shouldn’t suffer after decades of fossil fuel use by wealthier countries.

“The global economy is going to suffer so it’s not really a case of act now or act later. We need to do both,” said Ferguson.

“Developing countries can’t do this on their own. There needs to be a coordinated global effort to deal with the impacts we are talking about.”

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