Canada and the world have received another warning about greenhouse gas emissions, which hit a record high in 2018. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)

The UN issues another stark warning about emissions

A UN report released ahead of next week’s global climate summit in Madrid says unless drastic action is taken, the planet is headed toward a warming of 3.2 C in less than 100 years.

The warning is contained in United Nations Environment Programme’s annual Emissions Gap report, released Tuesday.

The report says emissions have risen on average 1.5 per cent annually over the last decade, hitting 55.3 billion tons of CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gases in 2018, three years after 195 countries–including Canada–signed the Paris Treaty of Climate Change.

The Paris Accord committed nations to limit temperature rises above pre-industrial levels to “well below” 2 C, and to a safer 1.5 C, if at all possible.

To hit those targets, countries agreed on the need to reduce emissions and work towards a low-carbon world within decades.

Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant, at night near Belchatow, Poland last December. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Noting that greenhouse gas emissions surged to record levels last year, the report says that even taking into account current Paris pledges, the world is on track for the 3.2 C warming, and the extreme ill-effects that will result.

“By now, we know all we need to know. The science is pretty clear, and very frightening,” says Anne Olhoff, head of strategy, climate at the UN Environment Program.

“But we also know we have the technological options that are needed, at least to the short to medium term.”

Canada’s new Parliament is expected to focus on climate change during its upcoming sitting.

During the recent election campaign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government would commit to legislate net-zero emissions by 2050, also saying Canada would be below the country’s 2030 emission goal.

The UN report says Canada’s current policies will be at least 15 per cent above target.

Earlier this month, Climate Transparency, an international group that compiles G20 countries’ emissions and climate policies, issued its annual report and did not go easy on Canada, saying the country ranks with South Korea and Australia as the G20 countries farthest from achieving targets to cut their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement commitments.

With files from CBC, AP, Reuters, CTV

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