Four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification – set new records in 2021. This is yet another clear sign that human activities are causing planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for sustainable development and ecosystems, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s new report.
IPCC | Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change
Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) is beyond reach. In the scenarios assessed, limiting warming to around 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. According to the report, there is increasing evidence of climate action. In 2010-2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed. An increasing range of policies and laws have enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.
Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and is affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, says this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit. Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on small islands and in the Arctic. To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, urgent, ambitious, and accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
Record atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated accumulated heat have propelled the planet into uncharted territory, with far-reaching repercussions for current and future generations. This report finds the past seven years are on track to be the seven warmest on record, based on data for the first nine months of 2021. A temporary cooling “La Niña” event early in the year means that 2021 is expected to be “only” the fifth to seventh warmest year on record. But this does not negate or reverse the long-term trend of rising temperatures. Global sea level rise accelerated since 2013 to a new high in 2021, with continued ocean warming and ocean acidification. The report combines input from multiple United Nations agencies, national meteorological and hydrological services and scientific experts. It highlights impacts on food security and population displacement, harming crucial ecosystems and undermining progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
World Meteorological Organization | Greenhouse Gas Bulletin
The abundance of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere once again reached a new record in 2020, with the annual rate of increase above the 2011-2020 average. That trend has continued in 2021, according to the latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Concentration of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149 per cent of the pre-industrial level. Methane is 262 per cent of the level in 1750 when human activities started disrupting the Earth’s natural equilibrium. The economic slowdown from COVID-19 did not have any discernible impact on atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases and their growth rates, although there was a temporary decline in new emissions. Roughly half of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere. The other half is taken up by oceans and land ecosystems, but their ability to act as “sinks” may become less effective in the future.
WMO and others | The State of the Climate in Africa 2020
This report provides a snapshot of climate change trends and impacts in Africa, including sea level rise and the melting of the continent’s iconic glaciers. It highlights the region’s disproportionate vulnerability and shows how the potential benefits of investments in climate adaptation, weather and climate services and early warning systems far outweigh the costs. The report adds to the scientific evidence underlining the urgency of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions, stepping up climate ambition and increasing financing for adaptation. Greater weather and climate variability mean that up to 118 million extremely poor people in Africa may face drought, floods and extreme heat by 2030. Without response measures, poverty alleviation efforts will slow and gross domestic product could fall by up to 3 percent by 2050.
COVID-19 paused but did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere commit the planet to dangerous future warming, according to a new report that links the latest findings from across the United Nations. Rising global temperatures are fuelling extreme weather throughout the world, impacting economies and societies. The average global temperature for the past five years was among the highest on record, and the scale of recent changes across the global climate system is unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years. Even with ambitious action to slow greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will continue to rise and threaten low-lying islands and coastal populations throughout the world. The findings reinforce critical momentum behind climate action to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
IPCC | Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis
Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying. That is the key finding of the latest scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It finds changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many changes are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Some, such as continued sea-level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. The report points to strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to limit climate change. Benefits for air quality would come quickly, while global temperatures would take 20-30 years to stabilize. The report, issued by the IPCC’s Working Group I and approved by 195 member governments, is the first in a series leading up to the 2022 IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. It includes a closer look at the regional dimensions of climate change and builds on advances in attributing specific weather and climate events to climate change.
The State of the Global Climate 2020 finds the year was one of the three warmest on record, despite a cooling La Niña event. The global average temperature was about 1.2° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. The six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record, with 2011-2020 the warmest decade on record. The report documents indicators of the climate system, including greenhouse gas concentrations, increasing land and ocean temperatures, sea level rise, melting ice and glacier retreat and extreme weather. It also highlights impacts on socioeconomic development, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems.
The global slowdown from the COVID-19 pandemic has not curbed rising levels of greenhouse gases, said the World Meteorological Organization in releasing its latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Carbon dioxide levels have pushed past another record threshold, after rising in 2019 at a rate faster than the average for the last 10 years.
Increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security and socio-economic development in Africa, according to the State of the Climate in Africa Report devoted exclusively to the continent. The report provides a snapshot of current and future climate trends and associated impacts on the economy and sensitive sectors like agriculture. It highlights lessons for climate action in Africa and identifies pathways for addressing critical gaps and challenges.
Between 1970 and 2019, 79% of disasters worldwide involved weather, water, and climate-related hazards. These disasters accounted for 56% of deaths and 75% of economic losses from disasters associated with natural hazards reported during that period. As climate change continues to threaten human lives, ecosystems and economies, risk information and early warning systems (EWS) are increasingly seen as key for reducing these impacts. This latest WMO report highlights progress made in EWS capacity – and identifies where and how governments can invest in effective EWS to strengthen countries’ resilience to multiple weather, water and climate-related hazards.
Climate change has not stopped for COVID19. United in Science 2020, a new multi-agency report from leading science organizations, highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions and is often felt through water-related hazards like drought or flooding. It also documents how COVID-19 has impeded our ability to monitor these changes through the global observing system.
The tell-tale physical signs of climate change, such as increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea level rise and melting ice, contributed to making 2019 the second warmest year on record according to a new report compiled by a network led by the World Meteorological Organization. The report documents the increasing impacts of weather and climate events on socio-economic development, human health, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems.
The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018 , its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue.
Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The report found that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. There is no sign of a reversal in this trend, which is driving long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more extreme weather.
The Synthesis Report (SYR) of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides an overview of the state of knowledge concerning the science of climate change. It shows that human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.
Climate change exacerbates social, environmental, and economic risk factors, directly impacting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of many communities, warns a new policy brief from the World Health Organization which recommends key approaches to address the growing impact.
The way land resources – soil, water, and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own, warns a stark new report from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
COVID-19 and climate change are rapidly making it clear that, in today’s crowded and interconnected world, disaster impacts increasingly cascade across geographies and sectors. Despite progress, risk creation is outstripping risk reduction, warns the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s latest report.
WMO | State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2020
This is the first report of its kind for Latin America and the Caribbean and it shows that the region is facing increasing temperatures, glaciers retreat, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, coral reefs bleaching, land and marine heatwaves, intense tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, and wildfires. The impacts to most vulnerable communities, including the Small Islands Develop States, have been substantial and exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. The report emphasizes the need to enhance climate resilience through identified pathways, such as ecosystem-based responses, as well as strengthened climate services and multi-hazard early warning systems.
WMO | State of the Climate in South-West Pacific 2020
This report provides informed climate analysis and climate change trends for states and territories across the vast South-West Pacific Ocean, the adjacent oceanic areas north of the equator and the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean. The first report of its kind, it highlights the real and potential risks associated with the changes occurring in ocean circulation, temperature, acidification and deoxygenation, as well as rising sea-level. Climate and extreme weather events had major and diverse impacts on population movements and on the vulnerability of people already on the move in the region throughout 2020. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted socio-economic development in the region, affecting key drivers of growth and revealing gaps in countries’ capacities for addressing systemic and cascading risk. Addressing the rising climate risks and associated impacts requires local, regional and transnational capacity building, development of climate services and integrated disaster risk reduction approaches.
UNEP| The Adaptation Gap Report 2021: The Gathering Storm
A new report calls for urgent efforts to increase the financing and implementation of actions to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. While policies and planning are increasing for climate change adaptation, financing and implementation are still far behind. Moreover, countries have largely missed the opportunity to use the pandemic recovery to prioritize green economic growth and adapt to climate impacts such as droughts, storms and wildfire. The report finds that the costs of adaptation are likely in the higher end of an estimated $140-300 billion per year by 2030 and $280-500 billion per year by 2050 for developing countries only. Estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to 10 times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and the gap is widening.
UNDP| Showing Promise: The State of Climate Ambition
The Paris Agreement’s “ratchet mechanism”, where countries regularly recalibrate and increase the ambition of climate goals, is working according to this report. But small island developing States and least developed countries are leading the way on greater ambition despite contributing only a marginal share of global emissions. The report stresses that it is time for the G20 countries to step up given that they emit the most. In reviewing the most recent national climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions, the report finds that they are higher quality, more inclusive and country driven than in an earlier round. But finance remains a key hurdle. While countries are increasingly engaging the private sector as critical to scaled up climate action, they are not adequately defining needs in just transition processes. Issues related to gender equality and youth feature more prominently yet more needs to be done to capitalize on the potential of these groups as climate actors and leaders.
WMO and others | The State of the Climate in Asia 2020
Extreme weather and climate change impacts across Asia in 2020 caused the loss of life of thousands of people, displaced millions of others and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, while wreaking a heavy toll on infrastructure and ecosystems. Sustainable development is threatened, with food and water insecurity, health risks and environmental degradation on the rise. A new report provides an overview of land and ocean temperatures, precipitation, glacier retreat, shrinking sea ice, sea level rise and severe weather. It examines socioeconomic impacts in a year when the region was also struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn complicated disaster management. The report shows how every part of Asia was affected, from Himalayan peaks to low-lying coastal areas, from densely populated cities to deserts and from the Arctic to the Arabian seas.
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of Paris Agreement goals, leaving the world on track for a global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century. The latest Emissions Gap Report finds that updated national commitments for reducing emissions by 2030 only shave an additional 7.5 per cent off predicted annual totals. Reductions of 55 per cent are needed to stay on course in keeping global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Net-zero pledges could make a big difference if fully implemented, restraining predicted global temperature rise to 2.2°C. This provides hope that further action could still head off the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. But net-zero pledges are vague and incomplete in many cases. To stay at no more than 1.5°C, the world has eight years to take an additional 28 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent off annual emissions, above what has already been promised. Current annual emissions are close to 60 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
UN Climate Change | Nationally Determined Contributions Under the Paris Agreement: Revised Note by the Secretariat
An updated synthesis of climate action plans communicated in Nationally Determined Contributions confirms overall trends identified in a full report released in September 2021. The update provides the last information to inform global climate talks at COP26. It synthesizes information from the 165 latest available NDCs, representing all 192 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including the 116 new or updated NDCs communicated by 143 Parties on 12 October 2021. For these 143 Parties, total emissions are estimated to be about 9 per cent below the 2010 level by 2030. Some 71 Parties communicated a carbon neutrality goal around mid-century, with their emissions levels up to 88 per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019. For all available NDCs of all 192 Parties, however, a sizable increase of about 16 per cent in global emissions is expected by 2030 compared to 2010. This may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7°C by the end of the century.
The 2021 Production Gap Report finds that despite increased climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than what would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Over the next two decades, governments are collectively projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, plans and projections see global, total fossil fuel production rising to at least 2040. The report provides country profiles for 15 major producer countries, where most governments continue to provide significant policy support for fossil fuel production. They include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. Recent scientific evidence clearly confirms that unless global coal, oil, and gas production start declining immediately and steeply, warming will exceed 1.5°C and result in catastrophic consequences
The Special Report on Climate Change and Health spells out the global health community’s prescription for climate action based on growing research that establishes inseparable links between climate and health. The report was launched with an open letter signed by over two thirds of the global health workforce – 300 organizations representing at least 45 million doctors and health professionals worldwide. They call on national leaders and climate talks to step up climate action. Unprecedented extreme weather events and other climate impacts are taking a rising toll on people’s lives and health. Increasingly frequent heatwaves, storms and floods kill thousands and disrupt millions of lives, while threatening health-care systems and facilities when they are needed most. Changes in weather and climate also undercut food security and drive up food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, such as malaria. Climate impacts are also negatively affecting mental health.
A new report urges the world to wake up to the looming water crisis. Water-related hazards like floods and droughts are increasing because of climate change. The number of people suffering water stress is expected to soar, exacerbated by population increases and dwindling availability. But management, monitoring, forecasting and early warnings are fragmented and inadequate, while global climate finance efforts are insufficient. The State of Climate Services 2021: Water highlights the need for urgent action to improve cooperative water management, embrace integrated water and climate policies, and scale up investment in this precious commodity. It underpins all international goals on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
WMO | Climate Indicators and Sustainable Development: Demonstrating the Interconnections
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 largely depends on addressing human-induced climate change. A new report demonstrates connections between global climate and the goals. It champions the need for greater international collaboration to both achieve the SDGs and limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. A story map highlights seven climate indicators with impacts across the global goals: carbon dioxide concentration, temperature, ocean acidification, ocean heat content, sea-ice extent, glacier mass balance and sea-level rise. The report examines the implications of the latest data and scientific research on the state of the global climate for sustainable development, highlighting how the climate is already changing in ways that may impede progress on the SDGs.
UNFCCC | Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement
A synthesis of nationally determined contributions required under the Paris Agreement indicates that while there is a clear trend in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time, nations must urgently redouble climate efforts to prevent global temperature from crossing a dangerous threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report includes information from all 191 Parties to the Paris Agreement based on their latest NDCs, including 86 updated or new NDCs submitted by 113 Parties. The new or updated NDCs cover about 49 per cent of global emissions. For the 113 Parties, greenhouse gas emissions are projected to decrease by 12% in 2030 compared to 2010. This is an important step towards the 45 per cent reduction in 2030 required to keep to the 1.5 degree goal. NDCs of all 191 Parties, however, imply a sizable 16 per cent increase in global emissions in 2030. Without immediate action, this could lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
WMO | Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes
A comprehensive new report finds that a disaster related to a weather, climate or water hazard occurred every day on average over the past 50 years, killing 115 people and causing $202 million in losses each day. The number of disasters increased by five times; economic losses rose sevenfold. But improved early warnings and disaster management reduced deaths by almost threefold. Cumulatively, more than 11,000 disasters were reported, with just over 2 million deaths and $3.64 trillion in losses. Weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 per cent of these disasters and nearly half of deaths, 91 per cent of which occurred in developing countries. Of the top 10 disasters, the largest human losses came from droughts, storms, floods and extreme temperature. Storms and floods generated the greatest economic costs. Three storms in 2017 alone accounted for a third of total economic losses from the top 10 disasters over the 50-year period.
UNICEF | The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis
At least 1 billion children live in 33 countries that are at extremely high risk from multiple climate and environmental shocks, according to the new Children’s Climate Risk Index. It offers the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk from a child’s perspective. The index ranks countries based on children’s exposure to shocks such as cyclones and heatwaves. It also considers children's vulnerability from gaps in essential services such as for education and health care. While nearly every child in the world is at risk from at least one climate or environmental hazard, the worst affected countries face multiple and often overlapping shocks that threaten to erode development progress and deepen child deprivation.
Each year, the world could save an estimated 23,000 lives and gain $162 billion in benefits from improving weather forecasts, early warning systems and climate information, known as hydromet. That’s the conclusion of the first Hydromet Gap Report. It shows how far the world has to go to tap the benefits of effective weather and climate services, but also highlights how investments in multi-hazard early warning systems create benefits worth at least 10 times their costs. These are vital to build resilience to extreme weather, yet only 40 percent of countries currently have effective warning systems in place. Large gaps remain in vital data upon which these services depend, particularly in the least developed countries and small island developing States.
Accelerating energy transitions in line with a livable climate could double the number of energy jobs, up to 122 million by 2050, according to a new report. It also finds a substantial boost to the global economy of 2.4 per cent over the expected growth of current plans within the next decade. The report predicts that renewables-based energy systems will instigate profound changes that will reverberate across economies and societies. Sharp adjustments in capital flows and a reorientation of investments are necessary to align energy with a positive economic and environmental trajectory. Forward-looking policies can accelerate transition, mitigate uncertainties, and ensure maximum benefits of energy transition. The annual investment of USD 4.4 trillion needed on average is high but feasible.
Drought affects millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. The impacts reach across societies, ecosystems and economies. With climate change increasing temperatures and disrupting rainfall, drought frequency, severity and duration are on the rise many regions. This requires urgent action to better manage risks and reduce devastating tolls on human lives and livelihoods. The Special Report on Drought 2021 empha¬sizes solutions in managing drought risks and calls for a sharper focus on prevention by addressing root drivers of drought and socioecological vulnerability. It stresses that risk prevention and mitigation have a far lower cost than reaction and response, and offers recommendations on how to achieve drought resilience.
2020 could have been a gamechanger. With economies worldwide ravaged by COVID-19, primary energy demand fell by 4 per cent. Yet G20 countries, the planet’s biggest polluters, barely met or even missed their unambitious renewable energy targets. The Renewables 2021 Global Status Report shows that the world is nowhere near the necessary paradigm shift towards a clean, healthier and more equitable energy future, even as the benefits of renewables are indisputable. In many regions, it is now cheaper to build new wind or solar PV plants than to operate existing coal-fired power plants. The report suggests accelerating the uptake of renewable energy by making it a key performance indicator for every economic activity, budget and public purchase, and adopting clear targets and plans to shift to renewable energy and end fossil fuel use.
CDB and the UN Global Compact | Taking the Temperature
New research finds that the G7 stock indexes are not currently on a 2°C pathway, much less the 1.5°C one that is so urgently needed. Fossil fuels are a key contributor to the emissions of all seven. Taking the Temperature: Assessing and scaling-up climate ambition in the G7 business sector also finds that indexes with a higher share of emissions covered by science-based targets for reductions result in lower overall temperature ratings. Companies with such targets are already cutting emissions at scale, and despite the findings, momentum for climate action in G7 countries is growing. Overall, 2020 was a milestone year for climate commitments, with the annual rate of adoption of science-based targets doubling compared to 2015-2019. The report maps four key levers that governments, investors and businesses can use to unlock breakthrough climate action through such targets.
IEA and others | Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report
More people have access to electricity than ever before but unless efforts are scaled up significantly in countries with the largest deficits, the world will still fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. While more than 1 billion people gained access to electricity globally over the last decade, COVID-19’s financial impact has made basic electricity services unaffordable for 30 million more people, the majority in Africa. Under current and planned policies, and given fallout from the pandemic, an estimated 660 million people would still lack access in 2030. The report examines how to bridge the gaps, such as by significantly scaling up renewable energy. It tracks international public financial flows to developing countries, finding these reached $14 billion for clean and renewable energy in 2018. But only 20 percent went to the least-developed countries, which are furthest from achieving SDG energy targets.
Climate and Clean Air Coalition and UNEP | Global Methane Assessment
The 2021 Global Methane Assessment shows that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, avoiding nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045. Because methane is a key ingredient in ground-level ozone (smog), a powerful climate forcer and dangerous air pollutant, a 45 per cent reduction would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually. Most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste and agriculture. The assessment identifies readily available solutions to reduce methane emissions. Half are not only low in cost, but would even make money, such as through reducing leaks in the oil and gas industry.
REN21 | Renewables in Cities 2021 Global Status Report
Cities around the world are accelerating uptake of renewable energy, adopting targets and policies to spur local consumption and generation. This makes a critical contribution to climate action, since cities shelter more than half the global population and use three-quarters of global final energy consumption. REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report surveys the status and prospects of renewable energy in cities, detailing policies, markets, investments and citizen actions. It puts particular focus on renewables in public, residential and commercial buildings as well as public and private transport. Covering urban areas from towns to mega-cities, the report builds on more than 330 data contributors, and is endorsed by major renewable energy players and city networks.
One year into the pandemic, recovery spending has fallen fall short of national commitments to shift to more sustainable investments. A new report finds only 18 per cent of announced recovery spending in 50 leading economies can be considered “green”. That totals about $368 billion of $14.4 trillion in COVID-induced spending on rescue and recovery in 2020. The report calls for governments to invest more sustainably, emphasizing that green recovery can bring stronger economic growth, while helping to meet global environmental targets and addressing structural inequality. To keep decades of progress against poverty from unwinding, low-income countries will require substantial concessional finance from international partners.
People waste a substantial share of food, which is associated with up to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Until now, the true scale of food waste and its impacts have not been well understood. Efforts to reduce it have been minimal, despite a global Sustainable Development Goal commitment to halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels. The Food Waste Index Report generates a new estimate of global food waste, and offers a methodology for countries to measure the problem and track national progress on reducing it.
The Initial NDC Synthesis Report shows nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021. That will be the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise ideally by no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report looks at 75 new or updated action plans – known as NDCs – covering around 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Together, they would cut emissions by less than 1 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that emissions should be around 45 per cent lower.
From Ambition to Impact: How companies are reducing emissions at scale with science-based targets is the first study to look at how setting science-based targets correlates with actually reducing corporate emissions. The study surveyed 338 companies with such targets, finding they have slashed combined emissions by 25 per cent since 2015. Annual emissions declined at a rate exceeding the one required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Further, 2020 saw a milestone: the doubling of science-based climate commitments.
UN Environment | Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020 Status Review
The report provides an overview of the current state of climate change litigation globally, finding a rapid increase around the world. In 2017, 884 cases were brought in 24 countries. By July 2020, the number of cases had nearly doubled with at least 1,550 filed in 38 countries. The report shows how climate litigation is compelling governments and corporate actors to purse more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation goals. It looks at the role of fundamental human rights connected to a safe climate, and outlines how cases are forcing greater climate disclosures and ending “corporate greenwashing”.
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report 2020 looks at progress in planning for, financing and implementing adaptation, with a focus on nature-based solutions. It finds some advances in planning, but also huge gaps in finance for developing countries. Implementation of adaptation projects lags behind, with many not yet delivering real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, floods and sea-level rise. The report calls for closing the gaps fast, and prioritizing nature-based solutions, or locally appropriate actions offering benefits to people and nature.
Go green with pandemic recovery packages. That’s the message of the 2020 Emissions Gap Report. It predicts that green recovery could shave emissions by 25 per cent by 2030, bringing the world closer to Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming. Despite a recent dip in emissions from lockdowns and slowing economies, temperatures are still rising at a record clip.
The world must cut fossil fuel production by 6 per cent per year to avoid the worst of global warming. Instead, countries are projecting an average annual increase of 2 per cent. Those are among the sobering findings of the latest Production Gap Report, issued by leading research organizations and the United Nations. The report urges making COVID-19 recovery a turning point, where countries should steer investments into changing course to avoid “locking in” dependence on polluting coal, oil and gas.
September’s Climate Action Summit delivered important new actions, a surge in climate momentum, and a clear destination: 45% emissions cuts by 2030 on the way to a carbon neutral world by 2050. The Secretary-General’s report on the outcomes of the Summit highlights the way forward in 2020, and outlines ten priority areas of action.
As the world strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. For a decade, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report has compared where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be, and highlighted the best ways to close the gap.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been working together since 2014 to support countries in developing their national climate plans --Nationally Determined Contributions for the Paris Agreement or NDCs. This report is the most detailed review yet of momentum since the Paris Agreement and is designed to both inspire and inform the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September.
IPCC | Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (2019)
The IPCC Special Report highlights the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean and cryosphere. Without a radical change in human behavior, hundreds of millions of people could suffer from rising sea levels, frequent natural disasters and food shortages, it warns.
The Special Report provides new evidence for the benefits of limiting global warming to the lowest possible level – in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. It also finds that strongly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and carefully managing the use of natural resources would make it possible to preserve the ocean and cryosphere.
The report “Climate Action and Support Trends” was prepared as UN Climate Change input to the UN Climate Action Summit, and it puts a spotlight on the progress made over the past 25 years since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This can help in scaling up further action, as governments prepare to submit the next round of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2020.
Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states in its latest report.
The report provides key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) in New Delhi, India in September and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, Chile, in December.
The flagship report from UN Environment is the definitive assessment of the 'emissions gap' – the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030, compared to levels consistent with a 2°C / 1.5°C target. It found that global emissions are on the rise as national commitments to combat climate change come up short. But surging momentum from the private sector and untapped potential from innovation and green-financing offer pathways to bridge the emissions gap.
The next 2-3 years are a critical window when many of the policy and investment decisions that shape the next 10-15 years will be taken. The New Climate Economy report found that leaders are already seizing the exciting economic and market opportunities of the new growth approach, while the laggards are not only missing out on these opportunities but are also putting us all at greater risk. More than US$26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer, if everyone gets on board.
Throughout the world, people are feeling the impacts of the climate and environmental crises most strongly through water: the land is drying up, fertile grounds are turning to dust and drought is prevailing. Since 1970, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 percent of all disasters and 45 percent of all reported deaths. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s Drought in Numbers report looks at worrying trends in the duration and intensity of droughts and the devastating impact on ecological systems and human survival.
UN WATER | The United Nations World Water Development Report 2022
A new report from UN Water looks at how groundwater is central to the fight against poverty, food and water security, the creation of decent jobs, socio-economic development, and the resilience of societies and economies to climate change. The report also describes the challenges and opportunities associated with the development, management, and governance of groundwater across the world.
GCRMN/ICRI | The Sixth Status of Corals of the World: 2020 Report
Coral reefs support at least 25 per cent of marine species and underpin the safety, coastal protection, well-being, food and economic security of hundreds of millions of people. They provide goods and services valued at $2.7 trillion per year. But coral reefs are among the most vulnerable ecosystems to global threats from climate change and ocean acidification, and local impacts from land-based pollution such as input of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, marine pollution, and overfishing and destructive fishing practices. The Status of Coral Reefs of the World report describes the status and trends of coral reefs. The sixth edition is the first based on the quantitative analysis of a global dataset spanning more than 40 years and comprising almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites around the world.
A new World Bank report estimates that the collapse of select ecosystem services provided by nature – such as wild pollination, provision of food from marine fisheries and timber from native forests – could result in a decline in global gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion annually by 2030. The report underscores the strong reliance of economies on nature, particularly in low-income countries. It highlights that sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia would suffer the greatest GDP contractions at 9.7 per cent and 6.5 per cent annually, respectively. This is due to a reliance on pollinated crops and, in sub-Saharan Africa, on forest products, as well as a limited ability to switch to other production and consumption options that would be less affected.
Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined and increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world. Biodiversity loss and climate change are both driven by human economic activities and mutually reinforce each other. A report by 50 of the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts summarizes findings from the first-ever collaboration between the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Biodiversity and Climate Change finds that previous policies have largely tackled biodiversity loss and climate change independently of each other, but neither will be successfully resolved unless both are tackled together. Doing so while also considering social impacts offers opportunities to maximize benefits and meet global development goals.
Making Peace with Nature lays out the gravity of the Earth’s triple environmental emergencies – climate, biodiversity loss and pollution – through a unique synthesis of findings from major global assessments. It flags interlinkages between environmental and development challenges and describes the roles of all parts of society in the transformations needed for a sustainable future. Advances in science and bold policymaking can open pathways towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and a carbon neutral world by 2050, while bending the curve on biodiversity loss and curbing pollution and waste. Taking that path means innovation and investment only in activities that protect both people and nature; COVID-19 recovery plans are an unmissable opportunity to do so.
CBD | The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 Report (2020)
Despite encouraging progress in several areas, the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5) calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities. The report outlines eight transitions that recognize the value of biodiversity, the need to restore the ecosystems on which all human activity de-pends, and the urgency of reducing the negative impacts of such activity. It also shows that governments will need to scale up national ambitions in support of the new Global Biodiversity Framework and ensure that all necessary resources are mobilized, and the enabling environment strengthened.
UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (2019) calls on decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement.
By bringing together a community of hundreds of scientists, peer reviewers and collaborating institutions and partners, the GEO reports build on sound scientific knowledge to provide governments, local authorities, businesses and individual citizens with the information needed to guide societies to a truly sustainable world by 2050.
UNEP | The State of Finance for Nature in the G20 report
G20 country investments in nature-based solutions need to reach US$285 billion a year by 2050 to address the interrelated climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises. However, current G20 spending is only USD 120 billion/year. The new report also reveals that the spending gap in non-G20 countries is larger and more difficult to bridge, but only 2 per cent of the G20’s US$120 billion investment was directed towards official development assistance in 2020. Similarly, private sector investments remain small, at US$14 billion a year.
IEA and others | Financing Clean Energy Transitions
Our energy and climate future increasingly hinges on decisions made in emerging market and developing economies, which face the challenge of meeting the aspirations of their citizens while avoiding high-carbon pathways. These economies are set to account for the largest emissions growth in coming decades unless sufficient action is taken to transform their energy systems. Yet efforts to support clean energy in them are faltering. The COVID-19 pandemic has stemmed the flow of new investments and exacerbated imbalances in access to capital. Countries will miss an opportunity to “build back better” unless the flow of new clean energy projects increases dramatically. Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging and Developing Economies analyses the outlook for investment, assesses key issues in attracting finance, and provides advice on how policy reforms and financial mechanisms can mobilize and align private finance.
A new report outlines how 38 major banks from six continents are putting their portfolios and business practices behind the Collective Commitment to Climate Action. The initiative mobilizes banks to join the transition to a net-zero economy. Members are applying climate science and adopting policies to exclude financing activities that worsen global warming.
Delivering on the $100 Billion Climate Finance Commitment and Transforming Climate Finance
Meeting the pledge by developed countries to mobilize at least US$100 billion a year to support developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change, lagging even before the COVID-19 pandemic, requires urgent action, according to a new report by independent experts released today by the United Nations.
UNEP | Enabling Sustainable Lifestyles in a Climate Emergency
This Policy Brief by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) offers insights on what forces shape our lifestyles and sets out guidelines on how to remove carbon-intensive consumption options and how to integrate or scale up low-carbon alternatives, while offering fairer access for all and putting the sustainable lifestyles approach on the agenda of regional, national and local policymakers.
The 2021 edition of Greening the Blue is the first to reveal impacts from COVID-19 on the UN system’s environmental footprint. The report provides UN system-wide and entity-level data on environmental impacts related to greenhouse gas emissions, climate neutrality, waste, air pollution, water and wastewater, and biodiversity. It found that the UN system in 2020 generated approximately 25 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than in 2019, given significant worldwide travel restrictions and many UN personnel working from home. In 2020, 19 per cent of UN electricity worldwide came from renewable energy. The UN system was able to offset 99 per cent of emissions. While offsetting is important in managing unavoidable emissions, the priority for the UN system remains emissions reductions and elimination.
The United Nations has released its latest annual stocktaking on its environmental impact. Greening the Blue 2020 finds a downward trend in emissions for nearly 60 UN system entities and 310,000 staff members. It also highlights advances in environmental management.