UNEP: National climate plans deliver half carbon cuts needed for 2C

Government pledges will cut 11 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases by 2030, report finds, leaving an emissions gap of 12Gt

Governments are curbing emissions, but not fast enough for 2C goal (Pic: Flickr/kris krug)

Governments are curbing emissions, but not fast enough for 2C goal (Pic: Flickr/kris krug)

By Ed King

The UN climate body has already released a report detailing why climate plans from nearly 150 countries are inadequate to avert dangerous global warming.

Now it’s UN Environment Programme’s turn, with its latest annual “emissions gap” report.

And guess what? It agrees with a raft of recent studies in saying the promised carbon cuts will slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions – but not enough to limit temperature rise to 2C, the international goal.

International efforts ahead of a proposed Paris climate accord this December could prevent around 11 billion tonnes of planet warming gases from being released by 2030, it says.

Who emits what?

World: 43 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (Gt CO2e)
China: 11 Gt
US: 6 Gt
EU 28:  4 Gt
India: 3 Gt
Russia: 2 Gt

Data: World Resources Institute (2012). Numbers rounded to closest GT

That is about half what is needed for a two thirds chance of staying within the 2C threshold.

According to UNEP, emission levels should not exceed the equivalent of 48 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2025 and 42 billion tonnes by 2030.

If all climate plans, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), are rolled out in the coming decade, emissions could hit 53 Gt CO2e in 2025 and 54 Gt in 2030.

This means Paris will need to deliver a tougher set of measures to ensure countries start to boost action in the next decade.

“The Paris agreement should adopt a dynamic approach in which contributions, the mobilization of climate finance and other forms of cooperation can be adjusted upwards over time,” said UNEP chief Achim Steiner in a statement.

Tackling forest loss, boosting energy efficiency and increasing the use of renewables should be priorities for governments, the study recommends.

Read more on: 2C | INDCs |