Governments 'not on track' to cap temperatures at below 2 degrees: UN

The Paris climate agreement, adopted by almost 200 nations in 2015, set a goal of limiting warming to “well below” a rise of 2 degrees C.

FILE: A screengrab shows a man cooling himself with water after heatwave. Picture: Supplied.

BANGKOK - Governments are not on track to meet a goal of the 2015 Paris agreement of capping temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius before the end of the century, a United Nations official said on Sunday ahead of climate-change talks in Bangkok this week.

Patricia Espinosa, head of the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which steers the climate talks, said both the public and private sector need to act with urgency to avoid “catastrophic effects”.

The Paris climate agreement, adopted by almost 200 nations in 2015, set a goal of limiting warming to “well below” a rise of 2 degrees C above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for the tougher goal of 1.5 degrees C.

“1.5 is the goal that is needed for many islands and many countries that are particularly vulnerable to avoid catastrophic effects. In many cases, it means the survival of those countries. With the pledges we have on the table now we are not on track to achieve those goals,” Espinosa told Reuters in a telephone interview on Sunday in Bangkok.

A Europe-wide heat wave this summer and bushfires in Australia, among other things, should give new impetus to the talks, said Espinosa.

“It really does make the evidence clear that climate change is having an impact on the daily lives of people,” Espinosa said.

“I do believe that this will create a bigger sense of urgency.”

The Bangkok talks come ahead of a December meeting in Katowice, Poland, where government ministers will meet to agree on rules for the 2015 Paris climate accord.

That accord set a sweeping goal of ending the fossil fuel era this century, but the text was vague on details.

Espinosa said she hopes that a draft text for negotiation on the “rulebook” of the 2015 agreement will emerge at the end of the week-long Bangkok talks.

“These draft texts that we hope can emerge from these talks here in Bangkok are something that we need to build on from the talks in Paris 2015. This is a process that has been ongoing for some time. One of the reasons why this is so complex is because we are talking about ... many different areas. One of those areas that countries need to take action on is to reduce their emissions,” she said.

A promise by rich nations to provide developing nations with $100 billion a year to tackle climate change is only one part of the huge transformation needed, she added.

“There is a clear view that the $100 billion is only one part of the broad transformation of our societies that we are talking about... There is also a need to mobilise private financing,” said Espinosa.