The carbon crunch: A factfile

PARIS, France – Action to tackle greenhouse gases falls way short of what is needed to meet the United Nations' global-warming target, according to a snapshot of pledges and policies ahead of the climate summit next Tuesday, September 23.

In 2010, the latest year for which a comprehensive assessment is available, global emissions stood at about 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e).

These must be slashed for a good chance – of about 85% – of pegging warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, according to a respected policy-monitoring tool, Climate Action Tracker (CAT).

The tally would have to be 42 GtCO2e by 2020, 30 GtCO2e by 2030, 9 GtCO2e by 2050, zero between 2060 and 2080, and probably negative thereafter.

By comparison, if current pledges are carried out in full, emissions in 2030 will be 59 GtCO2e, setting the world on track for 3.1 C warming by 2100.

The outlook is worse if you measure the effect of current policies for actually achieving these pledges.

There would be 65-67 GtCO2 by 2030, leading to warming of 3.7 C by 2100 – a level deemed disastrous by many experts.

Here is how CAT rates the major emitters:












SOURCES: CAT 2013, compiled by Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK); the UN Environment Programme's Emissions Gap Report

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