If the national goals, which have been reported following COP15, are achieved, it will lead to approx. 60 percent of the CO2 reductions required for the global temperatures to be kept under a 2 degrees Celsius rise. In a new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), a number of the world’s climate scientists are estimating the possibility of keeping global temperatures under a 2 degrees Celsius rise in the 21st century. The report concludes that the world is actually able to achieve these 60 percent emissions reductions.
The Emissions Gap Report |
1 gigatonne of CO2 is roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of all international air traffic and shipping industry or to the annual emissions from a country such as Germany and Japan.
5 gigatonnes of CO2 is equivalent to the total annual emissions from all EU countries or to the annual emissions from the world’s vehicle fleet in 2005, including cars, trucks and buses.
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However, the agreements reached at COP15, must be observed. The chances of reaching the remaining 40 percent is a huge political and practical challenge
The report has been compiled by the UN Environement Programme (UNEP) and jointly authored by over 30 leading scientists from numerous international research institutes, including Risø DTU.
The report was published on 23 November prior to COP16, which is to take place in Cancun, Mexico. It spotlights the size of the ’emissions gap’ between where nations might be in 2020, with their current ambitions, versus where climate scientists indicate we should be in terms of CO2 emissions reductions, if we are to believe in a target of no more than two degrees Celsius.
According to the report, global emissions will need to have peaked within the next 10 years and be around 44 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020.
Under business-as-usual projections, global emissions could reach 56 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, while COP15 agreements call for emissions of 49 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent
If the world continues with ”business-as-usual”, annual emissions of greenhouse gases will reach 56 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020. By comparison, global emissions were about 48 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2009.
Fully implementing the pledges and intentions associated with the Copenhagen Accord could, in the best case cut emissions to around 49 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2020.
A gap of 5 gigatonnes - equalling the total annual emissions in the EU!
This would leave a gap of approx. 5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent that needs to be bridged over the coming decade - an amount equal to the total annual emissions of all EU countries or the emissions of all the world’s cars, buses and trucks in 2005.
Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, on the findings of the report: “The results indicate that the UN meeting in Copenhagen could prove to have been more of a success than a failure if all the commitments, intentions and funding, including fully supporting the pledges of developing economies, are met.”
He makes clear 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.”
Jørgen Fenhann, Senior Scientist at Risø DTU, one of the co-authors of the report, adds: "It has been interesting to be part of this process. Now that we have determined and agree on the figures, we must turn our attention to the climate negotiations, starting in Mexico in about one week. With the figures of the report in mind, negotiations will be more exciting and obviously I hope that the fact that we 'only' lack 5 gigatonnes in order to achieve the goal of keeping the world under a 2% increase of temperature, means that we can breathe new air into the negotiations, raising the level of ambition of the world's future climate."