Reality and Need Separated by 5 Gigatonnes

A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has outlined the “emissions gap” between where nations are currently heading, in terms of their emissions mitigation, and where science says we need to be, by the time we hit 2020.

According to the report, nations are capable of delivering almost 60% of the emissions reductions necessary to keep global temperatures under a 2 degree Celsius rise, but only if the pledges made at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 are met.

The report states that in order to keep temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise on temperatures in the 1990s, global emissions need to peak within the next 10 years and drop to an equivalent of 44 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2020.The report also states the following;

  • Under a business-as-usual scenario, annual emissions of greenhouse gases could be around 56 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020. As a point of reference, global emissions were estimated to be around 48 gigatonnes in 2009;
  • Fully implementing the pledges and intentions associated with the Copenhagen Accord could, in the best case identified by the group, cut emissions to around 49 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020;
  • This would leave a gap of around 5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent that needs to be bridged over the coming decade – an amount equal to the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses and trucks in 2005;
  • In the worst case identified in the report – where countries follow their lowest ambitions and accounting rules set by negotiators are lax rather than strict – emissions could be as high as 53 gigatonnes in 2020, only slightly lower than business as usual projections.

“I encourage all Parties to make good on their national mitigation pledges, and to further progress within the negotiations as well as through strengthened efforts on the ground to curb emissions,” said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. “There is no time to waste. By closing the gap between the science and current ambition levels, we can seize the opportunity to usher in a new era of low-carbon prosperity and sustainable development for all.”

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, says that “there is a gap between the science and current ambition levels. But, what this report shows is that the options on the table right now in the negotiations can get us almost 60 per cent of the way there. This is a good first step.”

Source: United Nations Environment Programme
Image Source: iagoarchangel

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