The First Global Stocktake: Reining in Oil, Gas, and Coal as a Key to Controling Climate Change – The United States Does Not Live Long
Next week, world leaders will head to Dubai for the Conference of the Parties—the United Nations’ annual climate meeting—to finalize the first “global stocktake,” assessing progress toward the Paris Agreement’s goals. The UN Environment Programme is not mincing words about how far from those goals nations are. The report is called: “Broken Record –Temperatures Hit New Highs, Yet World Fails to Cut Emissions (again).”
The new analysis underscores once again that reining in oil, gas and coal operations is key to controlling global warming. The report shows that if people extract and burn all the oil, gas and coal currently in development worldwide, countries would emit enough greenhouse gasses to hit the higher temperature target under the Paris agreement.
An analysis shows that global greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1% between 2021 and 2022. Emissions need to fall as quickly as possible to avoid catastrophic climate impacts such as runaway sea level rise, unsurvivable heat in some areas and mass extinction of plants and animals, scientists warn.
And the lower target is likely out of reach entirely at this point – a finding that is backed up by another recent study. The study said progress on phasing out fossil fuels has been too slow.
If you zoom out even more, it’s clear that humanity has made significant progress since the Paris agreement was signed. That year, U.N. analysts predicted that the planet was on track for a whopping 8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming.
That means that new oil, gas, and coal mining is incompatible with avoiding catastrophic warming later this century. The United States is one of the countries that are still allowing new fossil fuel extraction.
Transitioning to renewables is sound economic policy with a host of co-benefits. In the United States, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the green economy, and it has already created 75,000 jobs, by one estimate. Burning less fossil fuel also improves air quality, reducing health care costs. Just do it now, that’s all. Anne Olhoff is the Chief Scientific Editor of the new report and she says that it shows that it can be done. “There’s no good reason not to do this. Most countries and decisionmakers are out of good reasons not to do so.