New Delhi: Nearly 200 countries need to take urgent action to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming, UN Environment said on Tuesday.
The eighth edition of UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, found that national pledges only brought a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets.
The private sector and sub-national action not increasing at a rate that would help close this worrying gap. Fossil fuels and cement production still account for about 70 percent of greenhouses gases.
“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,” an official statement quoting the head of UN Environment Erik Solheim said.
“This is unacceptable. If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future. But we have to get on the case now.”
The 2015 Paris Agreement looks to limit global warming to under two degrees Celsius, with a more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees also on the table.
Meeting these targets would reduce the likelihood of severe climate impact that could damage human health, livelihoods, and economies across the globe.
As things stand, even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions makes a temperature increase of at least three degrees Celsius by 2100 very likely, meaning that the governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.
Should the US follow through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker.
However, the Emissions Gap report does lay out practical ways to slash emissions through rapidly expanding mitigation action based on existing options in the agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry and transport sectors.
Strong action on other climate forcers such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon could also make a real contribution.
The report finds that current Paris pledges make 2030 emissions likely to reach 11 to 13.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to stay on the least-cost path to meeting the two degrees Celsius target.
One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to one year of transport emissions in the European Union, including aviation.
The emissions gap in the case of the 1.5 degrees Celsius target is 16 to 19 GtCO2e, higher than previous estimates as new studies have become available.
“The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but the momentum is clearly faltering,” Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy and President of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly Edgar E. Gutierrez-Espeleta said.
“We face a stark choice: up our ambition, or suffer the consequences,” he added.