New Delhi: Warning that the Paris Climate Agreement 2015 was faltering, a United Nations report on Tuesday said that pledges by countries across the world to bring down greenhouse gas emissions are not enough and “only bring a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets".
The report stressed that governments and non-state actors need to deliver an urgent increase in ambition to ensure that the Paris Agreement goals can still be met. It warned that without enhanced ambition, the likely global average temperature increase will be in the range of 3-3.2 degree Celsius by the end of the century.
As per the report, total global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 are likely to be about 55 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, much higher than the limit of 42 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent required to limit the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times by the end of this century.
The warning in the UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report released on Tuesday is significant because the Paris Climate Agreement finalized in December 2015 aimed at limiting the rise in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times and make efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of 2100.
In the run-up to the Paris summit, all the countries had submitted their pledges to cut down emissions. In October 2015, India had pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, achieve 40% of its cumulative electric power of around 350GW installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources, mainly renewable power, and create an additional cumulative carbon sink of 2.5–3 GtCO2e through additional forest and tree cover.
Highlighting that “even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) makes a temperature increase of at least 3 degree Celsius by 2100 very likely", the UN report stated that governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.
The assessment also suggested that there is “ample room for India to strengthen its NDCs".
The UN assessment comes ahead of the UN climate change negotiations that are scheduled to be held from 7-17 November in Bonn, Germany.
The report cautioned that if the US follows through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker.
It, meanwhile, observed that, “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."
“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. 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," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
On a positive note, the report said carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have remained stable since 2014, driven mainly by renewable energy and energy efficiency, and better infrastructure, notably in China and India. But it warned that other greenhouse gases like methane are still rising, and a global economic growth spurt could easily put CO2 emissions back on an upward trajectory.
Stating that investing in technology is the key to success, the report said adopting new technologies in key sectors like agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry and transport, at an investment of under $100 per tonne, could reduce emissions by up to 36 gigatonnes per year by 2030, more than sufficient to bridge the gap.
On possibilities regarding non-state action, the report said that the world’s 100 largest emitting publicly traded companies, for example, account for around a quarter of global greenhouse emissions, which demonstrates huge room for increased ambition.
It also noted that avoiding new coal-fired power plants and accelerated phasing out of existing plants—ensuring careful handling of issues such as employment, investor interests and grid stability—would help.