Nations must triple efforts to reach 2°C target, concludes the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UN Environment) annual review of global emissions, climate action. Indeed countries are failing to take the action needed to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and the commitments made in the 2015 Paris agreement will not be met unless governments introduce additional measures as a matter of urgency.
New taxes on fossil fuels, investment in clean technology and much stronger government policies to bring down emissions are likely to be necessary. Governments must also stop subsidising fossil fuels, directly and indirectly, UNEP said.
The report says that global CO2 emissions increased in 2017, after a three-year period of stabilization and warned that if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the 2°C temperature goal can still be reached. The study concludes that it is still possible to keep global warming below 2°C, but the technical feasibility of bridging the 1.5°C gap is dwindling.
UN Environment’s 2018 Emissions Gap Report presents a definitive assessment of the so-called ’emissions gap’ – the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030, compared to levels consistent with a 2°C / 1.5°C target.
The evidence published just days before the start of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) show global emissions have reached historic levels at 53.5 GtCO2e, with no signs of peaking – the point when emissions switch from increasing to decreasing. Authors assessed that only 57 countries (representing 60 percent of global emissions) are on track to do so by 2030.
That analysis and a review of progress against national commitments under the Paris Agreement makes clear that the current pace of national action is insufficient to meet the Paris targets. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap number in this year’s report is larger than ever. Translated into climate action, the authors conclude nations must raise their ambition by 3x to meet the 2°C and 5x to meet 1.5°C.
“If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UN Environment Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”
A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings.
But surging momentum from the private sector and untapped potential from innovation and green-financing offer pathways to bridge the emissions gap.
While the authors highlight that there is still a possibility for bridging the emissions gap and keeping global warming below 2°C, the assessment issues a clear warning: The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen.
To fill this void, the 2018 Emissions Gap Report offers new insight into what meaningful climate action will look like. Through new analysis of global emissions in the context of fiscal policy, the current pace of innovation and an exhaustive review of climate action from the private sector and sub-national level, authors gathered here offered a roadmap for implementing the type of transformative action required to maximize potential in each of these sectors.
Ranging from city, state and regional governments to companies, investors, higher education institutions and civil society organizations, non-state actors are increasingly committing to bold climate action. These institutions are increasingly recognized as a key element in achieving the global emissions goals. Although estimates on the emission reduction potential vary widely, some mention 19 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2030. This is enough to close the 2°C gap.
Complimented by carefully designed fiscal policy, the potential is even greater.