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UN chief calls new report a "red alert" for Earth as governments lack ambition to tackle climate change

A new report from the United Nations warns that global governments are "nowhere" near ambitious enough to adequately tackle climate change and meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. To fix this, the report shows that countries have to redouble their efforts and adjust their goals by the end of this year to limit global temperature rise by the end of the century. 

The NDC Synthesis Report analyzes governments' climate action plans that have already been submitted to the UN as part of the global effort to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. So far, 75 parties — making up roughly 30% of the world's total emissions — have submitted their plans. A second report is expected to be released prior to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November.

The majority of countries included in the report improved how ambitious they would be individually to reduce emissions, but according to the UN, the combined level of impact is not good enough. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that emissions must be reduced by roughly 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and ensure that the average global temperature does not increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. While the majority of countries included in Friday's report show that their individual reduction goals have improved, combined, they will only reduce emissions by less than 1% by 2030.

If the world fails to meet its target in the next nine years, the IPCC has warned, global warming will lead to "irreversible loss of the most fragile ecosystems, and crisis after crisis for the most vulnerable people and societies."   

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change, tweeted that the new report is a "wake-up call" for the world. 

"It shows that we are far away from a pathway that will meet our #ParisAgreement goals," she said. "In 2021, we have a rare opportunity to turn this trend around." 

In a statement she also said that nations, including those that already submitted their goals, should rework their existing goals and develop plans to better support developing nations address the climate crisis. 

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that "2021 is a make or break year to confront the global climate emergency." 

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement," Guterres said. "The major emitters must step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 in their Nationally Determined Contributions well before the November UN Climate Conference in Glasgow."

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