Climate Change – Closing the Gap
The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 (an annual analysis of emissions released every year since 2010) presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the targets that individual countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.
In the 2017 Gap Report, the UN states that the gap between carbon cutting plans and the reductions required to keep temperature rises below 2℃ is “alarmingly high” and that current pledges aren’t enough to keep within the agreed temperature limits of the Paris Agreement. Only one-third of the cuts needed to keep below the 2℃ goal is covered by pledges made so far and even if all the promises are kept, we could still see a 3℃ rise by 2100.
Emissions from human activities involving burning fossil fuels have reduced over the last few years. This was mainly due to a reduction of coal used in China and America coupled with the rapid rise of renewable energy sources. However, the World Meteorological Organisation still warned of record highs of CO2 in the atmosphere late last year.
The 2017 report shows that global greenhouse emissions are likely to be at the top end of the scale for keeping temperature rises below 2℃.
The report shows that, while the Paris agreement has boosted climate action, there is not enough momentum and we need to increase our efforts to avoid severe consequences. It warns that if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, then it is unlikely that the goal set out by the Paris Agreement can be reached. Therefore, the signatories of the Paris accord must increase their ambitions in the updated plans to be submitted by 2020.
The report suggests that the private sector and cities are not doing enough and highlights that the world’s one hundred largest emitting publicly trading companies account for a quarter of the global greenhouse emissions.
However, there are cost-effective options available that can close the gap.
Closing the Gap
The UN believes that solar, wind, efficient passenger cars, efficient appliances, preventing deforestation and planting more trees can not only help us to meet targets but create the potential to more than cover the gap. Taking action in these areas could dramatically reduce carbon emissions and would come with a modest or net-negative cost.
The Paris Agreement has provided some positive results, but we are still not doing enough to protect the planet. By investing in the right technologies and stopping using coal for energy we can ensure a future for millions of people.
China, the EU, India and Japan are set to meet their pledged targets. However, with the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and other countries not pulling their weight, the future is uncertain.
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