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UNEP Emissions Gap Report: 2°C Goal Still Within Reach

UNEP6 November 2015: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published its sixth edition of its 'Emissions Gap Report' ahead of the Paris Climate Change Conference. The report assesses the 119 intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that have been submitted by 146 countries as of 1 October 2015, representing approximately 88% of global emissions. As previous editions, it then compares the resulting emission levels in 2030 with what is required by science to be on track towards the agreed target of a global average temperature increase below 2°C by 2100. The report notes that, while the implementation of INDCs will limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, the expected Paris agreement can still encourage further action to achieve the 2°C goal.

The report concludes that: combined, the INDCs represent emission reductions of four to six gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (GtCO2eq/yr) in 2030 compared to projected emissions under current policy trajectories; and an additional 12 gigatonnes are required to close the gap and maintain a “likely chance” of limiting temperature rise to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. Currently, if fully implemented, the INDCs would set the world on a path towards a 3°C temperature rise, assuming countries do not accelerate efforts in the future.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner stated that in order to close the gap, the Paris Agreement must adopt a flexible and dynamic approach in which ambition and climate finance can be “adjusted upwards at regular intervals.”

Welcoming the report, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stressed that the report confirms that the new Paris agreement must build on the INDCs in order to raise ambition now and in the future.

The report recommends early action to keep costs as low as possible and to avoid deeper and more challenging cuts later. It also concludes that the preparation and implementation of the INDCs will have benefits beyond emission reductions, including the exploration of links between development and climate, and the development of new national climate polices. The report notes that INDCs are a first step in a transition towards low-carbon economies.

The study also highlights: enhanced energy efficiency and use of renewable energy technologies for power production; the impact of actions by International Cooperative Initiatives, such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and the Compact of Mayors, which could reduce emissions by around .75 to 2 GtCO2eq in 2020; and the agriculture, waste and forestry sectors. The report discusses REDD+ and the potential of reducing forest loss and restoring forests by up to 9 GtCO2eq/yr in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean combined. [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Publication: Executive Summary of Emissions Gap Report] [Video Statement of UNEP Executive Director] [Video of UNEP Chief Scientist Presenting the Key Findings of the Emissions Gap Report]