‘We’re just so far off track,’ says one co-author, noting that vague long-term promises and insufficient short-term plans overshadow signs of progress

The world’s major economies, many of which helped fuel the Earth’s warming over the past century through massive greenhouse gas pollution, are still failing to do their part to adequately tackle the problem, The Washington Post reports, citing a United Nations report published on Tuesday.

The annual U.N. emissions gap report details how the Group of 20 — which comprises 19 individual nations and the European Union — collectively are not on track to meet the emissions-cutting pledges they made as part of the 2015 Paris agreement, or the updated plans some countries have submitted ahead of high-profile climate talks next month in Scotland.

Given that developed nations account for roughly three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions, their failures to set bold targets or to fully meet existing goals are a significant reason the world remains on a path toward worsening climate catastrophes, the U.N. found.

“We’re just so far off track, it’s really discouraging,” Drew Shindell, a Duke University earth science professor and co-author of Tuesday’s report, said in an interview. He said that while some countries are moving with more urgency, those efforts will lead only “to minimal change this decade,” unless major emitters make significant changes soon.

Despite the substantial gap that remains between the world’s current annual emissions and how much they must shrink to live up to the aspirations set six years ago in Paris, the report does make clear that there is evidence of progress.

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