Climate change has cast a shadow on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as just 15 per cent of the target will be met by 2030, a new multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has said as it noted that the world’s fossil fuel emissions have risen again.
In 2015, a total of 193 countries committed to the UN’s 17 SDGs, a so-called blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals targeted to be met by 2030 address various important global challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation.
The report from the WMO, including contributions from various scientists, rings alarm bells as it said “at the half-time point of the 2030 Agenda, the science is clear — the planet is far off track from meeting its climate goals.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres writes in the Foreword, “2023 has shown all too clearly that climate change is here. Record temperatures are scorching the land and heating the sea, as extreme weather causes havoc around the globe. While we know this is just the beginning, the global response is falling far short. Meanwhile, halfway to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world is woefully off-track.”
“Science is central to solutions. It is widely understood that weather, climate, and water-related sciences provide the underpinnings for climate action. But it is less recognised how these sciences can supercharge progress on the SDGs across the board,” he noted.
Further, said the report, there is a 66 per cent chance that at least one of the next five years will see the annual average global surface temperature temporarily breaching 1.5 degrees Celsius, with that chance increasing with time.
Global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 30 and 45 per cent to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to well below 2 and 1.5 degrees Celsius, respectively, by 2030, it said even as fossil fuel CO2 emissions increased 1 per cent globally in 2022 compared to 2021 and preliminary estimates from January-June 2023 showed a further 0.3 per cent rise.
The report pointed out that “very limited progress” had been made in narrowing the gap between emissions reductions promised by countries and those needed to fulfil the Paris Agreement goals and that in order to do so, “large-scale, rapid and systemic transformations” were required.
While it was widely understood that weather, climate, and water-related sciences provide the underpinnings for climate action, it is less recognised how these sciences can supercharge progress on the SDGs across the board, said the report.
As examples, the report showed how weather predictions could help boost food production and move closer to zero hunger and how integrating epidemiology and climate information could help anticipate climate-sensitive diseases.
“Groundbreaking scientific and technological advances, such as high-resolution climate modelling, artificial intelligence and nowcasting, can catalyse transformation to achieve the SDGs,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Achieving Early Warnings for All by 2027 will not only save lives and livelihoods but also help safeguard sustainable development,” he said referring to the UN’s initiative to ensure everyone’s protection from hazardous weather through early warning systems by the end of 2027.
Total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and land use change remained high in 2022 and the first half of 2023. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions increased 1 per cent globally in 2022 compared to 2021, and global average concentrations continued rising through 2022 and the first half of 2023.
• The years from 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest on record, and the chance of at least one year exceeding the warmest year on record in the next five years is 98 per cent.
• It is estimated that current mitigation policies will lead to global warming of around 2.8 °C over this century compared to pre-industrial levels. Immediate and unprecedented reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.