Greenhouse gas emissions have steadily risen for the last decade despite the current and future threat posed by climate change, according to a new United Nations report.
The annual report compares how clean the world's economies are to how clean they need to be in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change — a disparity known as the "emissions gap."
However, this year's report describes more of a chasm than a gap. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses have continued to steadily increase over the last decade. In 2018, the report notes that global fossil fuel CO2 emissions from electricity generation and industry grew by a mammoth 2%.
"There is no sign of [greenhouse gas] emissions peaking in the next few years," the authors write. Every year that emissions continue to increase, "means that deeper and faster cuts will be required" in order to keep the Earth from warming more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The Earth is already more than 1 degree warmer than it was before industrialization, and that is driving more frequent and severe storms, droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather. According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, if global emissions fail to fall in the coming decade, it will slow economic growth and cause serious damage to infrastructure and property in the United States.