Despite commitments to lower carbon emissions from governments around the world, including the U.S., climate change will worsen, according to a new report.
Climate Action Tracker, a network of scientists, published its findings last week saying that countries will not be able to keep the global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, a threshold set by the Paris Agreement.
Instead, even with their commitments, global temperatures could warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius, a dangerous level according to the CAT.
"While all of these developments are welcome, warming based on the targets and pledges, even under the most optimistic assumptions, is still well above the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C temperature limit," the report said.
In November 2020, the U.S. formally left the Paris Agreement, a global pact it helped forge five years earlier to avert the threat of catastrophic climate change. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office reversing the pullout ordered by then-President Donald Trump.
Biden said, speaking to the Munich security conference in February, "we can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change. This is a global existential crisis, and all of us will suffer if we fail."
Biden’s new U.S. commitment would cut America’s fossil fuel emissions by as much as 52% by 2030.
Last month, Biden hosted a summit with world leaders regarding the climate crisis.
At the summit, Japan announced its own new 46% emissions reduction target and South Korea said it would stop public financing of new coal-fired power plants, potentially an important step toward persuading China and other coal-reliant nations to curb building and funding of new ones as well.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one of the leaders shown watching summit proceedings in the coronavirus pandemic’s familiar Brady Bunch-style multi-box conference screen, said his nation would up its fossil fuel pollution cuts from 30% to at least 40%.
Climate efforts in recent years have proved a forum where even rival world leaders want to be seen as putting aside disputes to serve as international statesmen and women, even though the cumulative output of fossil fuel emissions is still hurtling the Earth toward disastrous temperature rises.
The new urgency comes as scientists say that climate change caused by coal plants, car engines and other fossil fuel use is worsening droughts, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters and that humans are running out of time to stave off catastrophic extremes of global warming.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.