World Will Permanently Exceed 1.5°C Tipping Point Before 2030 – At Current Carbon Emissions Rate
World reaches record high for annual temperatures over past 12 months – as 1.5°C tipping point approaches.

‘Extortion level’ capital costs put renewables out of reach in most developing economies; fossil fuel companies rake in record profits; and world reels from record heat, freak floods and drought, says UN Secretary General. 

New climate data released Wednesday shows virtually all key global warming parameters, including land and sea temperatures at all time record high levels for May, as well as for the past year. 

There’s an 80% likelihood that in at least one of the next five years, the world will temporarily exceed the 1.5°C limit set by the 2015 Paris agreement, said the World Metereological Organization.  And at current emissions rates, the world will permanently breach the 1.5° C limit before 2030, warned UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a stark message on climate change, coinciding with World Environment Day. 

“New data from leading climate scientists released today shows the remaining carbon budget to limit long term warning to 1.5 C is now around 200 billion tons – that is the  maximum amount of carbon dioxide that the Earth’s atmosphere can take – if we are to have a fighting chance of staying within the limits,” Guterres said. His comments were based on projections released today by WMO and the European Union’s Copernicus climate observatory. 

“And the truth is, we are  burning through the budget at reckless speed, spewing out around 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year,” he said urging people “to do the math.”

“At this rate, the entire carbon budget will be passed before 2030,” he said in an address was delivered from New York City’s Museum of Natural History – to underline the point that the human species, like dinosaurs, faces a real extinction threat.   

World’s carbon ‘budget’ surpassed before 2030

UN Secretary General delivers a major address on climate Wednesday 5 June.

To avoid permanently breaching the 1.5°C tipping point,  global emissions need to fall by 9% every year until 2030, he said. “But they are heading in the wrong direction. Last year, they rose by 1%.

“Almost 10 years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, the target of limiting long term global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is hanging by a thread. Meanwhile, the godfathers of climate chaos, the fossil fuel industry, rake in record profits supported by a system of trillions [of dollars] in taxpayer funded subsidies.”

‘Extortion-level’ capital costs put green energy out of reach in developing countries

Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa with solar panels: Investments in African renewables was a woeful 1% even as costs globally tumble.

It is money that is driving the world to “climate hell”, the UN Secretary General said, calling for a broad overhaul of finance priorities amongst G20 and G7 countries, as well as in private banks and multilaterals. 

Investments in African renewables represent just 1% of the world’s installed PV solar capacity – while oil and gas profiteers rake the continent for fossil fuels, he noted, citing recent data from the International Energy Agency.  

“Extortion level capital costs are putting renewables virtually out of reach for most developing and emerging economies – astoundingly and despite the renewables boom of recent years,” Guterres declared. 

“Clean energy investments in developed developing and emerging economies outside of China have been stuck at the same levels since 2015.   Last year, just 15% of new clean energy investment went to emerging markets and developing economies outside China, countries representing nearly two thirds of the world’s population.

“And Africa was less than 1% of [PV solar] installations – despite its wealth of natural resources, and vast renewables potential.”

All that is coming at a time when globally, clean energy investments reached a record high last year, with wind and solar power growing faster than any other electricity source in developed economies, he noted. 

Hottest month and year on record 

Record high sea temperatures are changing ocean and air currents, bleaching corals, threatening ice caps – all accelerating the approach of climate tipping points.

May 2024 also was the hottest day in recorded history – marking 12 consecutive months of the hottest weather for the planet ever on record, Guterres noted, citing the fallout that is also being felt from Delhi to the Americas – in terms of record temperatures on the Indian subcontinent, and fierce, unpredictable storms and flooding in southern Brazil. 

The new WMO report, also released Wednesday, backs that up with detailed data on the unprecedented levels of temperature rise on land as well as on the seas. The WMO report was led by the UK Met Service. Further data on global warming trends was released by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Service. 

Based on that data, the global average temperature for the last 12 months (June 2023 – May 2024) is the highest ever on record, at 1.63°C above the 1850–1900 pre-industrial average. 

And crossing 1.5°C is not merely a matter of crossing a political target, Guterres stressed.  

“Scientists have alerted us that temperatures rising higher would likely mean the collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with catastrophic sea level rise,” he said, 

And not only that, but also the “destruction of tropical coral reef systems and livelihoods of 300 million people; the collapse of the Labrador Sea currents that would further disrupt weather patterns in Europe; and widespread permafrost melt that will release devastating levels of methane – one of the most potent heat trapping gasses.” 

Health effects increasingly evident – impacting the poorest and vulnerable

Water shortage in Ethiopia. Droughts, flooding and heat waves all create acute health impacts, as well as exacerbating chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease.

Even today, as humankind pushes planetary boundaries to the brink-  shattering global temperature records are being recorded around the world, he pointed out.  

“Already the brutal heatwave has baked Asia with record temperatures, shriveling crops, closing schools and killing people. Cities from New Delhi to Bamako to Mexico City are scorching. Here in the West severe storms have destroyed communities and lives. 

“We have seen drought and disaster declared across southern Africa and extreme rains flood the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and Brazil. 

“And the mass global coral bleaching caused by unprecedented ocean temperatures – soaring past the worst predictions of scientists,” he said, noting that the cost of climate “chaos” could rise to at least $30 trillion by 2050.”

And while the rich can huddle inside air conditioned bubbles, at least much of the time, those least responsible for the crisis bear its brunt, he noted. 

“Extreme events turbocharged by climate change are piling up – destroying lives, families’ economies and hammering health, wracking sustainable development, forcing people from their homes and rocking the foundations of peace and security as people are displaced and vital resources are depleted.”

 Appeal to G7 and G20 to fix broken financial system 

‘Better, bigger and bolder’ commitments to green energy needed from multilateral development banks.

To reverse current trends, Guterres called on world leaders, and particularly G7 leaders meeting nexxt week in Italy, as well as the G20, in Rio in November, to commit to ending coal production by 2030 and reduce oil and gas production by 60% – as compared to trillions in fossil fuel subsidies.   

The world’s leading economies also should: 

  • Set up a “high integrity” system for carbon taxes and markets; 
  • Relieve the debt burden in developing economies so that investment can flow into green forms of energy; 
  • Commit to finally filling the coffers of the Green Energy Fund, with the  $100 billion in funds agreed to in previous Climate Conferences, for developing countries. 

He appealed to private financial institutions to stop funding coal, oil and gas projects – while the G7 and G20 countries should use their influence with multilateral development banks to make “better, bigger and bolder” commitments to green energy infrastructure. 

“The International Energy Agency reports that clean energy investments in developing and  emerging economies beyond China need to reach up to $1.7 trillion a year by the early 2030s. 

“In short, we need a massive expansion of affordable problem to public and private finance to fuel ambitious new climate plans and deliver clean, affordable energy for all,” he said, pointing to the UN Summit of the Future planned for September “to push reform of the international financial architecture.”

Meanwhile, private financial institutions should stop “”bankrolling fossil fuel destruction and start investing in a global renewable revolution,” while shareholders press for disclosure of engagements on fossil fuel multinationals – which have pressed on the gas, rather than releasing the pedal, investing a mere 2.5% in renewable projects, on average last year.  

Ban advertising of ‘unhealthy’ fossil fuels, as with tobacco 

Fossil fuels kill, like tobacco.

Business and government leaders, moveover, need to confront disinformation and “greenwashing” by the fossil fuel industry, more aggressively. 

“Many governments restrict or prohibit advertising for products that are dangerous to  human health like tobacco,” he pointed out.  Some are now doing the same for fossil fuels.

“I urge every country to ban advertising from fossil fuel companies. And I urge news media and tech companies to stop taking fossil fuel advertising. 

Embrace clean technologies  

polluted air
Cycling in Fortaleza, Brazil – the city strengthened its active transport system, which reduces carbon emissions from motor vehicles.

Meanwhile, he said, the general public can press on demand-side levers. 

“All of us can make a difference by embracing clean technology, phasing down fossil fuels in our own lives, and using our power as citizens to push for systemic change in the fight for a Livable Future. 

“People everywhere are far ahead of politicians. Make your voices and your choices count your friends. We do have a choice, creating tipping points for climate progress or gaining tipping points for climate disaster.” 

Image Credits: World Metereological Organization, Health Care Without Harm , WMO , Oxfam East Africa, WHO FCTC, City of Fortaleza.

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