WASHINGTON — The world still isn't close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That's despite some nations' recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.
The report looks at the gap between what countries promise to do about carbon pollution and what scientists say needs to be done to prevent temperatures rising another two degrees. That two-degree level is a goal that world leaders set in 2009.
To achieve that goal, the world has to hit a peak of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases before 2030, said the report's chief scientific editor, Joseph Alcamo. But the study says carbon emissions will continue to soar until 2050 and by then it will be too late, even with recent promises by the U.S., China and Europe.
Using basic math and science, researchers figured out how much greenhouse gas the world can emit by 2030 and keep below that two degree mark: about 46 billion tons (42 billion metric tons). Even factoring in the recent pledges, the world will be spewing between 15 and 19 billion tons more than that, said Alcamo, chief scientist for the United Nations' environmental arm.
In his forward to the report, United Nations undersecretary for environment Achim Steiner wrote that the "analysis reveals a worrisome worsening trend. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will lead to an even warmer climate and exacerbate the devastating effect of climate change."