UNEP report warns of high ‘emissions gap’

As the Paris Agreement enters into force on Friday a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released on Thursday has shown that global emissions have continued to rise despite some signs of emissions from fossil fuels stabilising. The “emissions gap” for 2030 is 12 to 14 GtCO2e (gigatonne CO2 equivalent) compared with 2°C scenarios, and for 1.5°C the gap is three GtCO2e larger, the report shows.

Emissions gap is the difference between the emissions levels in 2020 necessary to meet climate targets, and the levels expected that year if countries fulfil their promises to cut greenhouse gases. So, the emissions gap reveals how much more needs to be done by countries in order to meet the target of keeping global warming levels below the 2°C safe limit as agreed in the Paris climate accord last year.

The UNEP report further shows that even if fully implemented, the unconditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) — the voluntary climate action targets of countries — are only consistent with staying below an increase in temperature of 3.2°C by 2100, which can have disastrous consequences for the climate.

The report has therefore emphasised on pre-2020 action by countries. Raising ambition before 2020 “is likely the last chance to keep the option of limiting global warming to 1.5°C,” the report notes.

This means that in the next three years countries must take sufficient emissions reduction action to aim for the more ambitious target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C in the Paris Agreement.

Urging countries to act ahead of the UN climate summit in Morocco that begins next week, Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said in a statement, “If we don’t start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy. The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver. The science shows that we need to move much faster.”

G20 countries’ progress

Given the emphasis on pre-2020 action, the UNEP report takes a closer look at climate action by G20 countries, which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. While the G20 countries are collectively on track to meet their Cancun climate pledges for 2020, these pledges fall short of creating a sufficiently ambitious starting point to align with the temperature target of the Paris Agreement, the UNEP report notes. In Cancun, Mexico, in 2011, nations had agreed to GHG emission cuts ahead of 2020.

Three of the G20 parties — China, the EU, and India — are on track to meet these pledges without purchasing offsets, according to available analyses, UNEP has said. Three more — Brazil, Japan, and Russia — are on track, according to most estimates, the report says.

Rulebook on climate action

With 94 countries of 197 UN member nations having ratified the Paris climate agreement till now, hopes are high that the treaty will be able to lead the way to a carbon-neutral world. In a jointly authored editorial, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Morocco, have said that the Marrakech climate summit will accelerate work on creating a rulebook, which will measure, account for and review global climate action, and to see a definable pathway emerge for developed countries to materialise the flow of $$100 billion per year by 2020 in support of climate action by developing ones.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 4:23:32 PM |

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