Greenhouse gas emissions hit new high in 2019: UN report

LONDON: Greenhouse gas emissions reached a new high last year, putting the world on track for an average temperature rise of 3 deg C, a United Nations report showed.

The report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) yesterday follows a year of sobering weather extremes, including rapid ice loss in the Arctic as well as record heat waves and wildfires in Siberia and the US West.

On Monday, researchers at Europe's Copernicus Climate Change Service said last month was the hottest November on record.

"The year 2020 is on course to be one of the warmest on record, while wildfires, storms and droughts continue to wreak havoc," said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen.


The annual "emissions gap" report measures the gap between anticipated emissions and those consistent with limiting the global temperature rise this century as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Under the global climate pact, nations have committed to a long-term goal of limiting the average temperature rise to below 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it further to 1.5 deg C.

Emissions have, however, grown by an average 1.4 per cent a year since 2010, with a steeper increase of 2.6 per cent last year. Total 2019 emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent hit a new record of 59.1 gigatonnes.

This year, there has been a temporary emissions dip as economies slowed from the coronavirus pandemic.

The resulting drop in travel, industrial activity and electricity generation are likely to work out at a 7 per cent reduction in emissions, the report said. That translates to only a 0.01 deg C drop in global warming by 2050.

The UN and Britain are holding an online event on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, and governments are under pressure to come forward with tougher climate targets. - REUTERS