14% Chance of Meeting Climate Targets

Johnny Wentzel
Never tell me the odds GIF
Courtesy of GIPHY

It’s performance review season. And while most of us are on a quest of immodesty to secure a year-end bonus, not everyone is on track to achieve their goals. Collectively, we all look set to miss our Paris Agreement targets.

Background: The United Nations’ annual Emissions Gap Report was released this week and global emissions reduction performance is what your boss would call an “opportunity for growth”.

  • The report quantifies the “gap” between global pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and actual reductions.

Current projections show the emissions gap will be 22 billion tons by 2030, which is larger than the combined annual emissions of the US and China.

On global warming

The report also estimates the odds of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a threshold set by the Paris Agreement back in 2015.

Best-case scenario: The UN wagers optimistically that the chances of keeping global temperatures below a 1.5-degree increase is a mere 14 percent, with new data suggesting a rise of nearly three degrees by the end of the century is a very real possibility.

  • The Earth has eclipsed the 1.5 degree increase mark over 85 times this year, but the rise in global temperatures is calculated based on a 30-year rolling average, which currently sits at about 0.88 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Zoom out: As the odds of limiting temperature rise continue to decrease, carbon removal technologies like direct air capture and nature-based solutions will become increasingly important to “reverse course”, if key temperature thresholds are passed.

Still, many carbon removal technologies remain  in their infancy and it’s unclear how effective they will be when deployed at scale.

+Bonus Infographic: What happens with each degree of global warming?