Environment News

UNEP EMISSIONS GAP REPORT 2019

Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Environment [Paper-II]: Issues and concerns related to environment, its legal aspects, policies and treaties for the protection of environment at the National and the International level

News

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report 2019 was released recently.
  • It was released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP-25) taking place in Madrid, Spain, from 2-13 December 2019.

What is Emissions Gap?

  • It measures the gap between what we need to do and what we are actually doing to tackle climate change.
  • The gap is the difference between the low level of emissions that the world needs to drop to, compared with the projected level of emissions based on countries’ current commitments to decarbonization.
  • The Emissions Gap could also be called the “Commitment Gap”.

Significance of Emissions Gap

  • It is important because if we can’t close it and meet the emissions reduction target, we will face increasingly severe climate impacts worldwide.
  • It is important that policymakers, and their citizens, know what the gap is, so that the commitments countries are making are sufficient to close the gap.

About the Emissions Gap Report

  • Produced annually since 2010, the UNEP flagship report assesses the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030 and levels consistent with a 2°C/1.5°C temperature target.
  • It measures and projects three key trendlines:
  • The amount of greenhouse gas emissions every year up to 2030
  • The commitments countries are making to reduce their emissions and the impact these commitments are likely to have on overall emission reduction
  • The pace at which emissions must be reduced to reach an emission low that would limit temperature increase to 1.5oC, affordably

Key Highlights of 2019 Report

  • On the whole, countries must cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least three-fold ideally five-fold — to have a fighting chance at containing the severest effects of global warming.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions had risen 1.5% per year over the last decade and emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.
  • Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global GHG emissions, meaning that deeper and faster cuts are now required.
  • Fossil carbon-dioxide emissions from energy use and industry, which dominate total GHG emissions, grew 2.0% in 2018, reaching a record 37.5 Gt CO2 per year.
  • By 2030, emissions would need to be 25% and 55% lower than in 2018 to put the world on the least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to below 2˚C and 5°C respectively.
  • China, United States of America (USA), European Union and India are among the top four greenhouse gas emitters.
  • However, India’s per capita emissions are significantly below the United States, China, Russia, Japan and many countries.
  • Even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts.

Conclusion

  • The Report identifies two critical entry points for accelerating emissions reduction.
  • The first one is the decarbonization of the energy sector through renewables and energy efficiency, which could help reduce emissions by 12.1 Gt – or the equivalent of the annual output of nearly 2.5 million coal power stations – by 2050.
  • The second one is the electrification of transport, which could reduce the sector’s carbon emissions by up to 72% in 2050.
  • Each sector and each country has unique opportunities to harness renewable energy, protect natural resources, lives and livelihoods, and transition to a decarbonization pathway.

[Source: The Hindu, unenvironment.org]

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