Stagnation in Global Emissions 8 Years After Paris Climate Agreement

The Paris climate agreement was signed eight years ago, but global emissions are still on the rise. A report from the United Nations Environment Programme titled “Broken Record: Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again)” depicts the dire situation. The agreement aims to limit the global average temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels. However, most countries have fallen short in setting their emissions goals, mainly because their commitments are voluntary, with no enforcement mechanism.

The 28th Climate Change Conference (COP28) convened in Dubai with representatives from nearly 200 countries to assess the implementation of the 2015 agreement. However, global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Emissions from carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted from burning fossil fuels, reached a record high of 40.9 gigatons in 2023. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high was 14 million years ago. The COP28’s Global Stocktake stated that deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 43 percent by 2030 are necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

However, achieving this goal would be extremely challenging. Even the economic disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 only resulted in a record drop of 4.4 percent in global greenhouse gas emissions. The report concludes that parties are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, and it is unlikely that they will be anytime soon. Therefore, the development and deployment of low- and no-emissions technologies are crucial for addressing the problem of man-made climate change.