UN says carbon emissions gap could affect climate target: 

UN says carbon emissions gap could affect climate target

Context:

Paris Agreement pledges leave deficit that could raise temperature by 3°C

Introduction:

  • In its annual review, the UN says the gap between carbon cutting plans and the reductions required to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius is “alarmingly high”.
  • The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017:

  • According to the UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 there is a big carbon emissions gap exists between the levels that can be achieved in 2030 with present climate commitments, and what need to be done using set pathways to limit increase in global average, temperature to less than 2° Celsius or a more ambitious 1.5° C by the year 2100.
  • The report says full implementation of the unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and comparable action afterwards “could result in a temperature increase of about 2° C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels” while full implementation of conditional NDCs would marginally lower that projection by about 0.2°C.
  • Fossil fuels and cement production account for about 70% of greenhouse gases, the report noted
  • The alarming number and intensity of extreme weather events in 2017, such as hurricanes, droughts and floods, add to the urgency of early action.
  • The 2°C emissions gap for the full implementation of both the conditional and unconditional NDCs for 2030 is 11 to 13.5 gigatonne CO2 equivalent (GtCOe).
  • The report warns that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are still rising, and a global growth spurt could send CO2 emissions upward.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):

  • The national pledges by countries to cut emissions are voluntary.
  • The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead.
  • This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
  • In 2018, Parties will take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement.
  • There will also be a global stock take every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties.

India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)

  • India’s INDC include a reduction in the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
  • India has also pledged to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  • India will anchor a global solar alliance, INSPA (International Agency for Solar Policy & Application), of all countries located in between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

What’s new in this year’s report?

  1. Global greenhouse gas emissions: The Emissions Gap Report includes an assessment of the emissions associated with the Nationally Determined Contributions and current policies of each of the G20 members, including the European Union.
  2. Exploring “negative emission technologies”: This year’s report explores removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as an additional way to mitigate climate change, over and above conventional abatement strategies.
  3. The role of short-lived climate pollutants: The report describes the opportunities offered by limiting emissions of the so-called short-lived climate pollutants. Reductions of these pollutants will limit the rate of short-term warming, and when sustained and combined with reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, they help to limit long-term warming, which is the ultimate aim of closing the emission gap.

What is Paris Agreement?

  • Paris Agreement is an international agreement to combat climate change.
  • Paris climate accord or Paris climate agreement, is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) dealing with  greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
  • The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris   and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015
  •   As of October 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 169 have become party to it.
  • The Agreement aims to respond to the global climate change threat by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • In the Paris Agreement, each country determines, plans and regularly reports its own contribution it should make in order to mitigate global warming. There is no mechanism to force a country to set a specific target by a specific date, but each target should go beyond previously set targets.
  • In June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States   from the agreement, causing widespread condemnation in the  European Union and many sectors in the United States. Under the agreement, the earliest effective date of withdrawal for the U.S. is November 2020.

Aims of Paris Agreement

As countries around the world recognized that climate change is a reality, they came together to sign a historic deal to combat climate change – Paris Agreement. The aim of Paris Agreement is as below:

  1. Keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level.
  2. Pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  3. Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Solutions:

  • The Paris accord pledges only a third of what is needed to avoid climate catastrophe, and adopting new technologies in key sectors, at investments of under $100 per tonne of emissions, could cut them by up to 36 gigatonnes per year by 2030, which is more than sufficient to bridge the current gap.
  • A large part of the potential to close the emissions gap lies in solar and wind energy, efficient appliances and passenger cars, afforestation and stopping deforestation.
  • Strong action on plugging other greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, could contribute.
  • Co2 emissions have remained stable since 2014, driven in part by renewable energy, notably in China and India.
  • The government needs to deliver much stronger pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions when they are revised in 2020.
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