On track to a 3°C world with climate inaction
| Policy Research and Advocacy Team, Friends of the Earth (HK)
Temperature records are being broken across
the globe this year. The streak of extreme warmth virtually guarantees 2023
will be the hottest year in recorded history.
The UN Environment Programme’s Executive
Director, Inger Andersen, warned that, "humanity is breaking all the wrong
records on climate,”as the global authority released the latest Emissions Gap Report,just a week before world leaders gather in Dubai for the 28th UN
climate change conference (COP28).
The report found that the pace at which we
are decoupling our economy from fossil fuel consumption is still going too slow.
Instead of halving, carbon emissions are projected to increase by 3% in 2030. Despite
record increase in solar capacity, investment in fossil fuel extraction and use
has continued. 78% of countries still promote fossil fuel consumption through
net direct subsidies—to a tune of US$305 billion in 2020 alone.
Total net GHG emissions from human
activities, 1990–2022 (Image source: UNEP)
The lack of progress in climate commitments
was also a concern. Even if the current nationally determined contributions are
fully implemented, they would still put the world on a path towards 2.5-2.9°C of temperature rise, above the 1.5°C and 2°C thresholds set in
the Paris Agreement.
A wide emission gap still exists between current
policies and commitments and the Paris Agreement (Image source: UNEP)
The disappointing shortfall in climate
ambition and action extends past the national level. Another report in June
found that over 760 major cities, representing 63% of urbanites living in large
cities, still have not set net zero targets.More than 730—or 37%—of the world’s largest publicly-listed companies do not
have mitigation targets; and over a quarter of companies plans to meet their
net zero commitments through carbon dioxide offset, which has been warned as
not a "get-out-of-jail-free card” from reducing emissions.
Although fossil fuel companies have pledged
carbon neutrality, the world’s 20 largest oil and gas producers have continued
to ramp up fossil fuel production levels. The UNEP report noted that the coal,
oil and gas that will be extracted over the lifetime of existing and planned
mines and fields as at 2018 would use up the remaining carbon budget for a 2.0°C scenario and exceed the 1.5°C carbon budget more than three times over.
Carbon emissions from existing fossil
fuel infrastructure paired with the carbon budgets (Image source: UNEP)
Climate inaction is already costing us today
with increased risk of heat-related deaths, rising food insecurity, and loss in
labour productivity, but this can change. A shift towards a low-carbon,
sustainable society has far-reaching benefits. Decarbonising our energy systems
can prevent 1.9 million deaths yearly from air pollution.57% of agricultural emissions and 12 million deaths a year can be tackled
through healthier, low-carbon diets.
With the much anticipated climate conference
just around the corner, this is a chance for world leaders to demonstrate
credibility by putting forth stronger climate commitments and actions to align
with the Paris Agreement.
In line with Hong Kong's vision of
establishing itself as a leading centre for green and sustainable finance,
Friends of the Earth (HK) and the Financial Services Development Council will
co-host an event in the China Corner titled "Hong Kong's Drive Towards
Green and Sustainable Development and Cutting-Edge Innovations" on 6
December 2023 at the COP 28.
This collaboration represents a significant
milestone as it marks the first-ever participation of non-government
representatives from Hong Kong at the China Corner Side Event of COP, it
highlights the city's unwavering commitment to global environmental
preservation and financial sustainability. Hong Kong’s presence at COP28 aims
to draw international attention to its achievements and dedication to
spearheading initiatives that promote environmental preservation and financial
sustainability on a worldwide scale.