Pledges from China to the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gases as part of a new United Nations agreement to fight climate change still aren’t up to the job of keeping global warming to safe levels.
That’s the assessment of researchers at Climate Interactive, who say commitments made through today will lead to a 3.5-degree Celsius (6.3-degree Fahrenheit) increase in the global average temperature from pre-industrial levels. The Washington-based group’s latest assessment was posted in a graphic on their website.
More than 80 percent of the world’s emissions are now covered by national pledges that envoys aim to incorporate in a new deal to fight climate change in Paris in December. The internationally agreed goal is to restrict warming since the industrial revolution began to 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold beyond which scientists say the worst effects of warming, such as rising sea levels and prolonged droughts may become unmanageable.
Temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degree Celsius.
“National actions are mounting, but it is clear that these alone are not be enough to address this global threat,” Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement. “A strong global climate agreement will set the stage for greater country actions over time.”
Brazil on Sunday became the latest major economy to detail its plan to restrict emissions. President Dilma Roussef outlined plans at the UN General Assembly in New York to reduce emissions by 37 percent in the two decades through 2025.
The outright cut compares with the pledge by China, the biggest emitter, to “peak” or arrest the rise in its greenhouse gases by 2030. U.S. President Barack Obama promised in March to cut emissions by as much as 28 percent by 2025. Only India among the world’s biggest emitters has yet to detail a pledge.
Climate Interactive has advised both the U.S. and Chinese governments on climate change. Its assessment of the prospects for global temperatures is gloomier than others that have been made.
Even before the latest round of pledges, including South Africa and Indonesia in the past week, researchers with Climate Action Tracker, a project by four research centers, were projecting a temperature rise of no more than 3.1 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, assuming pledges are met.
Earlier this month, CAT said the chance of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees––a more ambitious target sought by low-lying nations––would probably be “foreclosed” by current pledges.