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Bridging the Emissions Gap

The world is on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century - even with the Paris Agreement pledges made by governments, UN Environment’s flagship Emissions Gap report has found.


The Paris Treaty, which entered into force on 4 November, binds countries to limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial times and to “pursue efforts” to limit this to 1.5 degrees.


Country pledges made in Paris generally cover climate actions to take place until 2030. The Emissions Gap report finds that, as things stand, global emissions are expected to reach 54-56 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by the date – far above the 42 gigatonne limit needed to have a chance of curbing the global temperature rise to 2 degrees. To meet this target, emissions would need to be cut by a further 25% by 2030.


“We are moving in the right direction,” said UN Environment Head Erik Solheim, referring to the Paris pledges and the recent deal to reduce hydrofluorocarbons. However, “the science shows we need to move much faster”. 


The Gap report shows that carbon emissions are stagnating for the first time, noted UN Environment’s Chief Scientist Jacqueline McGlade when presenting the paper in London on 3 November. “Can we fill the gap? Absolutely,” she underlined.


Energy efficiency is one area where greater investment could potentially help slash emissions, the report details. For an investment of between 20 and 100 US$ per tonne of carbon dioxide, energy efficiency emissions reduction potentials (in gigatonnes) by 2030 are 5.9 for buildings, 4.1 for industry and 2.1 for transport for example.


Reducing emissions by one gigatonne is roughly equivalent to taking all transport off the road and grounding all planes in the EU for one year.


Non-state actors including cities, regions, citizens’ groups and companies can have a major role to play in reducing emissions too, the report underlines – provided their initiatives do not replace other actions.


“Let’s help people with solutions - let’s match the (Emission Gap and other) reports with a bottom-up grassroots movement,” said Farouk Ullah, Executive Director of the Stakeholder Forum, speaking at the launch.


All new homes built in London should meanwhile be zero carbon, Shirley Rodriguez - the city’s Deputy Mayor for environment and energy - revealed when laying out the UK capital’s plans to tackle emissions.


Saker Nusseibeh – Chief Executive Officer of Hermes Fund Managers – furthermore claimed that the finance sector “has the highest responsibility” for ensuring the fight against climate change is a success.


The COP climate talks taking place from 7-18 November now hands governments a chance to step-up and flesh-out their ambitions.


To read the 2016 Emissions Gap report click here. For more information contact

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