UN emissions gap report

Editor1 Nov 19 2021 Current Affairs

National plans to cut carbon fall far short of what's needed to avert dangerous climate change, according to the UN Environment Programme.

Their Emissions Gap report says country pledges will fail to keep the global temperature under 1.5C this century.

The Unep analysis suggests the world is on course to warm around 2.7C with hugely destructive impacts.

But there is hope that, if long term net-zero goals are met, temperatures can be significantly reined in.

Just a few days before COP26 opens in Glasgow, another scientific report on climate change is "another thundering wake-up call", pursuant to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

Now in its 12th year, this Emissions Gap report looks at the nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) or carbon-cutting plans that countries have submitted to the UN ahead of COP.

These pledges run up to 2030 and have been submitted by 120 countries. Unep has also taken account of other commitments to cut warming gases not yet formally submitted in an NDC.

The report finds that when added together, the plans cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by around 7.5% compared to the previous pledges made five years ago.

This is nowhere near enough to keep the 1.5C temperature threshold within sight, say the scientists who compiled the study.

To keep 1.5C alive would require 55% cuts by the same 2030 date. That means the current plans would need to have seven times the level of ambition to remain under that limit.

Around 50 countries plus the EU have pledged a net zero target for the middle of this century.

These strategies cover over half of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Unep analysis finds that if these plans were implemented fully, this could shave 0.5C off the temperature rise by 2100.

This would bring the global temperature level down to 2.2C, which would see dramatic and deadly impacts from warming but would be a step in the right direction from where the world is currently headed.

Many delay significant cuts until after 2030, raising serious doubts about whether they can really deliver net zero just 20 years later.

Another hopeful sign relates to methane. The report also says there is great potential to make progress on these emissions, which are the second largest source of warming.

Up to 20% of these emissions from fossil fuels, from waste and from agriculture could be curbed at low or no cost.


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