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To halt warming at 1.5 degrees C, countries must slash emissions from power plants, heavy industry, cars, trucks, agriculture, and forest loss, among other sectors. But in some key areas, according to a new report, the world is seeing emissions continue to rise.

The State of Climate Action 2022 report, assembled by a coalition of environmental organizations, gauged global performance on 40 indicators of progress toward the 1.5 degree goal. On 27 indicators, progress is being made, but with insufficient speed. These include curbing deforestation, building out renewable energy and electric vehicles, and ramping up climate finance. On five other indicators, the world is clearly moving in the wrong direction:

  • Countries are burning more natural gas for electricity, such that even as the world builds more wind and solar energy, and coal burning declines globally, emissions from the power sector remain stubbornly high. In 2021, power sector emissions hit an all-time record.
  • Steel production has grown yet more polluting, with more than half of the world’s steel coming from China, which is increasingly reliant on coal-fired blast furnaces. Since 2000, emissions from industry have risen faster than emissions from any other sector. To cut pollution, countries must commit to a faster buildout of low-carbon cement and steel plants, the report said.
  • Globally, car use continues to rise. Emerging economies have seen a growth in auto ownership; wealthy countries, such as the U.S. and Canada, remain highly car-dependent; and the world’s most polluting cities have made little progress on expanding buses, trains, and bike lanes, which would discourage driving, the report finds. Because of this, transport emissions have continued to tick up, even as the shift to electric vehicles gains speed.
  • The loss of mangrove forests, a vital carbon sink, is accelerating. And while deforestation is declining overall, it is falling too slowly to meet global climate goals. Countries must do more to protect mangroves, tropical forests, and peatlands, the report said.
  • Emissions from agriculture continue to increase. To slow emissions, countries must boost productivity, particularly in rapidly growing Africa, where yields have remained stagnant for decades.

The report’s findings “should evoke two emotions,” Andrew Steer, president of the Bezos Earth Fund, one of the organizations involved in the report, said in a statement. “First, a sense of shame and anger that we are failing to live up to our commitments to act. Second, a sense of hope and possibility that real change is within grasp and can lead to a healthier economy, healthier citizens, and a healthier society.”


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