What the UN climate talks have — and haven’t — achieved

Global leaders can point to signs of real progress in combatting climate change. But the Earth is still headed for a dangerous level of warming, scientists warn.

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World News

November 12, 2021 - 3:51 PM

Scientists say air pollution is a contributing factor to climate change. A handful of European nations are planning to increase their pledges of money for the fight this month ahead of crucial talks in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by (Dreamstime/TNS)

As the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, enters its final day Friday, global leaders can point to signs of real progress. But the Earth is still headed for a dangerous level of warming.

The point of these talks was for countries to announce ambitious carbon-cutting pledges that would prevent the world from warming more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

That did not happen. Despite some new promises, and old promises repackaged as new ones, an analysis by the independent group Climate Action Tracker found that with all the short-term pledges added together, the world is likely to heat up by 4.3 degrees this century. That’s better than the path the world was on before the Paris agreement six years ago, when scientists predicted nearly 7.2 degrees of warming. But the consequences would still be catastrophic, resulting in deadlier wildfires and floods, famine and the extinction of more species.

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