The latest global climate promises to cut emissions are not yet enough to stay under the dangerous threshold of global heating that would trigger severe climate breakdown, UN scientists have warned.
The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) latest annual emissions report exposes the gap between what countries have promised and what should be done to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5C.
It finds each country’s action plans – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) – only knock 7.5% off predicted 2030 emissions, but 55% is needed to meet the 1.5C goal. Beyond 1.5C, more severe impacts of climate change kick in, from extreme weather to rising sea levels.
Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP said we have eight years to “make the plans, put in place the policies, implement them and ultimately deliver the cuts. The clock is ticking loudly.”
“Climate change is no longer a future problem. It is a now problem,” she said.
The Emissions Gap Report also found the world is facing at least 2.7C of heating this century based on the latest climate promises for 2030. Next week leaders will meet for climate talks at COP26, which aims to “keep 1.5?C alive”.
Overshooting these goals will lead to “a destabilised world and endless suffering, especially among those who have contributed the least to the [greenhouse gas] emissions in the atmosphere,” said Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“We are nowhere near where science says we should be,” Espinosa said.
However, net zero commitments may offer a glimmer of hope, as they could curb heating to 2.2?C, but only if they were “made robust and if 2030 promises were made consistent with the net zero commitments” the report said.
But it warns net zero pledges are still vague, incomplete in many cases, and inconsistent with most 2030 NDCs.
It found the latest NDCs from some G20 countries were no better than their previous offering – such as Australia, Brazil and Mexico – or so unambitious that they further policy action, like Russia’s.
Caterina Brandmayr, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, warned net zero targets are “only the first step, and must urgently be translated into concrete actions, particularly by G20 nations”.
“COP26 must provide a clear route forward to accelerate emission reductions and ensure countries continue to ramp up their near term climate action,” said Brandmayr.
Bleak climate report shows colossal challenge facing COP26
The prime minister’s comment yesterday that success at the COP climate summit in Glasgow is “touch and go” was not a throwaway remark.
Today’s Emissions Gap Report spells out, in the starkest of terms, just how far away the UN-led process is from delivering its aim of preventing dangerous levels of climate change.
It estimates the carbon-cutting commitments that countries are bringing to Glasgow currently put us on a trajectory for 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of this century.
That level of warming would lead to extremely dangerous extremes of weather and climate endangering food and water supplies, wipe many low-lying nations off the map due to several metres of sea-level rise (although this would take centuries more), not to mention obliterating most of the world’s glaciers and killing our existing coral reefs.
The report also lays bare the colossal challenge of how much we need to change.
Piers Forster, climate change professor at Leeds University, said the report paints “an overly bleak picture”.
He said: “It is true that the 2030 emissions gap remains but if you look at their numbers, it shows that the gap in longer term emission targets is almost closed.
“These national plans show that the costs of action are far less than the cost of inaction, so we have it all to play for at [COP26] to close these gaps even further.”
The report also highlights ways to slash emissions quickly, including by tackling the lesser talked about greenhouse gas methane through technology and diet changes.
Sepi Golzari-Munro, of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, and Chidi Oti-Obihara, the co-founder of COP26 Climate Action Plan, discuss how record high fuel prices could shape future climate policy
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Original Source: news.sky.com
WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.
WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.
Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.
The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.
There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.
Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.
Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.
Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.
There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.
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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.
“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”
Original Source: news.sky.com
Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons
The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.
Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.
He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.
The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.
He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.
Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.
He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.
His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.
During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.
Original Article: news.sky.com
Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed
A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.
The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.
The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.
Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.
All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.
At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.
This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.
Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.
The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.
An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province
There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.
Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.
Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.
Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.
China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.
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