With the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference just weeks away, countries will soon take stock of their progress in the worldwide effort to slow and adapt to global warming. Better known as COP28, the conference offers the chance for countries to meet and coordinate their climate-mitigating pledges, like achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 or peak emissions by 2030.
Past research suggests that, if current pledges are upheld, the world is roughly enroute to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. But the original goal of the Paris Agreement—the 2015 climate change treaty in which 196 countries aspired to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees by the end of this century—remains stubbornly out of reach.
“There’s the bad news,” said Haewon McJeon, visiting professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, whose research often focuses on assessing climate pledges. “We took stock of the current climate pledges around the world, and it all falls far short of the 1.5-degree goal. It’s not enough.”
What can countries do to bring the goal back within reach? In a new commentary published in the journal One Earth, researchers highlight that the biggest climate mitigation gains stand to be realized through three global efforts: reigning in non-CO2 emissions like methane and fluorinated gasses, ramping up carbon dioxide removal, and halting deforestation. Make sufficient progress in these areas, the authors said, and the 1.5-degree goal may inch back within our crosshairs.