The world is far from making the greenhouse gas emission cuts between now and 2020 to keep the global temperature rise from going above two degree Celsius, said the Emission Gaps Report 2013, authored by the United Nations Environment Programme.
The report noted that India and some other countries were on way to achieve the voluntary emission reduction pledges but even if all the countries came through on their current level commitments, the reduction would not be enough to bridge the gap between the current level of emissions and the requisite numbers.
The report noted, “Global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are estimated at 59 GtCO2e (Giga tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year under a business-as-usual scenario. If implemented fully, pledges and commitments (currently made by countries would reduce this by 3–7 GtCO2e per year.”
Even if all the countries meet their commitments there would be an emission gap of 8-12 GtCO2e, the report noted. But it warned that only a few countries were on way to fulfil their existing targets with India being one of them. It said that USA, Canada, Japan and Mexico were required to bring more changes to their economies or buy offsets to meet their pledges.
India had volunteered a target of reducing the emissions intensity of its economy by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020.
Many countries, both developed and developing had similarly pledged emission reduction targets though an assessment found that the developing countries had promised greater action than the rich countries, which carry the historical responsibility of a majority of accumulated emissions.
The UNFCCC data had earlier shown that the rich countries had pledged to reduce their emissions by only 13-19 per cent by the 1990 levels as compared to the 25-40% cuts recommended by the UN’s scientific panel on climate change – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The UNEP Emission Gaps report said that early action to cut emissions was advisable as against waiting for deeper reductions to be undertaken post-2020. Such a strategy would require much higher rates of global emission reductions in the medium term, greater lock-in of carbon-intensive infrastructure and greater costs of mitigation in the medium- and long-term, besides other factors the authors said.
The UNEP had brought out a similar report last year which had pitched for greater short term action. The report had shied away from applying the principles of the UN climate convention while assessing the countries needed to do more. The report had come in for some criticism from the developing countries for not looking critically at historic emissions, focussing only on future emissions and consequently underplaying the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
The China National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation had made a formal presentation at the UN talks noting these issues.
It noted, “Pre-2020 mitigation gap is mainly caused by the cumulative emission in the history, not just the lack of mitigation ambition in 2020.”
“The pre-2020 mitigation gap is because of the inadequacy of mitigation commitments of Annex I Parties who overuse the carbon space before 2020,” the presentation added.
It noted that the per-capita cumulative emissions of the developed world were 940.20 tonnes per capita while that of the developing world were only 223.3 tonne per capita for the period between 1850 and 2005.
Recently the BASIC countries had highlighted that the gap in ambition should not be read only as a gap in emission targets but also the lack of commitments from the developed countries to provide adequate funding and technology support to take stronger action to fight climate change.
Under the UN climate convention the developed countries are obliged to provide the support for others to undertake strong climate change action but the support has been lacking so far.