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Carbon Emissions: The World Isn't Doing Enough - UN Report

Jul 09, 2014 01:08 PM EDT

A recent report from a group of international science institutions claims that the world's top greenhouse gas emitters are largely failing to cut enough carbon emissions in time to prevent drastic climate change.

The report releases key preliminary findings from a more detailed report that is slated for release next spring. The authors, experts from 30 scientific institutions from 15 of the world's top greenhouse gas emitting countries, wanted their key findings on the table now to help direct discussions in September at the next global discussions on climate change in Paris, France.

According to Jeffery Sachs, director of the Columbia University's Earth Institute in New York who was involved in the report, national governments around the world have "made very little progress in achieving [emissions reductions] and have made insufficient analyses of how to achieve it."

Sachs spoke at a news conference following the report's release on Tuesday.

According to the report, titled "Deep Decarbonization Pathways," from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), major countries are falling short of commitments made in 2010. They pledged to take action to avoid a global average temperature rise that is two degrees Celsius (35.6°F) more than recorded pre-industrial levels.

According to the report, if this cannot be avoided, the Earth will see an even higher rise in sea-levels and more extreme changes in atmospheric patterning.

The SDSN report says that to ensure carbon levels are manageable by 2050, emissions will have to be cut to about 15 billion tons a year - that's nearly half of what the world produced in 2013 (35 b. tons).

Major producers, including the United States, China, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom, are being told they will need to slash around 60 percent of their current emission rates to reach this goal - a long shot from the US plan to cut 30 percent of emissions by 2030. Likewise, China, who has also taken action against carbon dioxide emissions, is reportedly not doing enough.

And those are among a limited number of major emitters that are actually taking any action at all, Sachs noted.

"The world is engaged in an unrecognized, massive gamble with the future of the planet," he said.

Sachs and his co-authors also express confusion as to why countries like Australia, who reportedly can afford to cut emissions to nearly zero, have not taken significant action.

The report was published by the SDSN, a global initiative for the United Nations, on July 8.

Also see "Mapping Out Deep Carbon Cuts," to learn more about the report's reccomendations for devloped contreies.

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