The global climate in the 2020s
The signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015 represented a decisive shift in awareness and understanding of the nature of the climate emergency that we face. It was a landmark agreement between all member nations of the UN, seeking to limit the global temperature rise this century to less than 2°C (and preferably 1.5°C).
To meet these targets requires a reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions of 25% and 45% respectively between 2010 and 2030, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Current emissions put us on track for around 3°C of warming.
There is some sign that global carbon emissions may have peaked, especially with a continued reduction in the use of coal. The decline in economic activity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to have slowed warming by 0.1°C. However, there is the danger that a ‘rebound’ serves to increase carbon emissions overall, rather than reduce them.
Nevertheless, despite the increased focus on the climate emergency, there are question marks as to whether countries’ plans to meet their Paris Agreement obligations are ambitious enough.