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News announcement7 November 2022Joint Research Centre

The window is closing: We need urgent global action to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C

Emissions are on the rise again. With current policies, the temperature increase is set to reach 2.8°C by the end of the century. We need to do more to cut emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

Young people demonstrate for change
We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions further and faster.
© Jacob Lund - 2022

Science tells us that we are not reducing greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to keep global temperature rise at 1.5°C, or even below 2°C.

According to the Emissions Gap Report published last week by the United Nations Environment Programme, current national policies will see global warming reach 2.8°C by the end of the century.

The report, co-authored by JRC scientists, shows that even if countries follow up on their pledges with concrete policies, temperature rise will only be limited to 2.5°C. This level of global heating is still far the targets of the Paris Agreement and too much to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

To meet the Paris targets, emissions in 2030 would have to be reduced by 30-45% below the levels projected under current policies. The JRC’s 2021 Global Energy and Climate Outlook (GECO) report informed the calculation of emissions and hence the emissions gap in 2030.

Global fossil CO2 emissions are on the rise again after a temporary fall due the COVID-19 pandemic. The JRC’s 2022 “CO2 emissions of all world countries” report shows that global fossil CO2 emissions increased by 5.3% in 2021, compared to 2020, roughly back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

There is no time to waste. At the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), the European Union will call for urgent action from all countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions further and faster before 2030. In the negotiations, the EU will push countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, phase down the use of coal, reduce methane emissions and align targets with the 1.5°C goal.

The EU leads by example and has achieved the largest relative decrease in greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s top emitters. EU fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 were 27.3% lower than in 1990, while its share of global emissions decreased from 16.8% in 1990 to 7.3% (in 2021).

However, the EU is still the third largest emitter after China and the United States, followed by India, Russia and Japan. The six largest emitters account for 67.8% of global emissions.

With the European Green Deal, the EU raised its ambitions even higher. Europe aims to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and is committed to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

If you would like to learn more about the JRC’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), then join our online COP27 side event on 15 November.

JRC science helps to cut emissions

Science can help to cut emissions. One key example is the JRC’s Photovoltaic Geographical Information System (PVGIS), which helps the roll-out of solar energy systems by providing information about potential performance in any location in Europe and Africa, as well as large parts of Asia and America.

With this system you can check approximately how much energy you could generate with solar panels on the top of your roof. Join our virtual COP27 side event on 14 November to learn more about PVGIS and the deployment of solar energy systems in Africa.

To reach climate neutrality and achieve sustainability we need new technologies. It is crucial that new solutions developed in research institutions quickly reach the market and are deployed widely. To this end, the JRC works on capacity building and financing for technology transfer, as well as innovation ecosystems design.

You can learn more about how technology transfer can support the green transition at the JRC’s panel discussion at COP27 on Sharm El-Sheikh on 17 November.

To manage the transition successfully, we need forward-looking analysis to see the upcoming changes and challenges. The 2022 Global Energy and Climate Outlook (GECO) report looks into how the global energy trade will change as we move to a low carbon economy.

How much will new trade opportunities, for example in hydrogen make up for the decrease in traditional fossil-energy trade? Join our virtual side event on 14 November to get the first insights.

For successful global climate mitigation efforts, we need to measure and estimate emissions. A particularly controversial topic is emissions from land use and forestry, where estimates from countries and global models widely differ. Follow the COP27 side event on 12 November to learn how JRC science helps to tackle this challenge.

We need everyone on board

We can only achieve climate neutrality if we act together. The Education for Climate initiative, led by the JRC and the education and climate departments of the European Commission, helps education practitioners to teach children and students how to live sustainably, how to act for a sustainable future and the skills they need in a changing labour market.

On the 17 November, in an interactive online session, the winners of the Education for Climate Coalition’s call for innovative green education projects will showcase their 3 inspiring actions.

Climate misinformation and disinformation can be a significant hurdle. The JRC has analysed climate change disinformation and the cost-benefit effectiveness of debunking. If you are curious about the types of climate change disinformation related to COP27 and the effectiveness of debunking, then follow our COP27 side event on 15 November.

Science is key for the green transition. However, communicating science, communicating data effectively to a non-scientific audience is often a challenge. At our side event “Can data and stories help save the planet?” at COP27, you can learn about impactful data storytelling.

We need to adapt to a changing climate

The climate is already changing and further change is unavoidable. Devastating floods in Pakistan remind us that we need to do more to prepare for extreme climate events and minimise future losses.

To adapt effectively to climate change, we need to understand the risks related to different types of hazards such as droughts, floods, heatwaves and anticipate humanitarian crisis. In the Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre the JRC analysed how climate change and socio-economic scenarios affect the future risk of humanitarian crisis and disasters. A dedicated open access tool has been developed for that purpose called INFORM Climate Change.

The results show that under more pessimistic scenarios, by 2050 more than 1.6 billion people will be living in countries experiencing large increases in the risk of humanitarian crisis and disasters. Increases in drought will be one of the most important drivers.

For example, by 2050, 20% of Africa’s population will be exposed to severe and extreme droughts. Join our online side event on data and systems for understanding and acting on current and future risks on 16 November to learn more about INFORM Climate Change and the Risk Data Hub for EU wide risk and loss data.

Droughts and heatwaves are already causing severe impacts. In East Africa, persistent drought conditions triggered a humanitarian crisis. This year, Europe was suffering from an extreme drought, which might have been the worst in the last 500 years.

Extreme droughts are going to occur more often and will become more severe unless we take effective global mitigation actions. The JRC’s COP27 side event, “Drought: a global challenge” on 11 November will focus on the strategies with which we can strengthen our resilience against droughts.

Climate change also has an effect on human health. Heatwaves that are becoming more intense, longer and more frequent and diseases that travel further, pose new health threats. However, with heat action plans and preparedness for epidemics many health risks are preventable.

On 11 November, follow our side event “Human Health in a Warming World” at COP27 if you are interested in how the changing climate and environment are affecting human health in terms of disease, mortality and air quality.


Publication date
7 November 2022
Joint Research Centre
JRC portfolios
Green transitionClimate neutrality