Further emissions cuts needed to meet climate target - UNEP

Global efforts at slowing carbon emissions are succeeding, the UN Environment Programme has said, but “not nearly enough and not fast enough”.  

This is the takeway from the agency’s Emissions Gap Report 2016, released this week, which found that expected 2030 greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut still further, by almost one quarter, in order to avoid a global temperature rise of over 2 degrees C.

“Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster,” UNEP said, adding that “we are actually on track for global warming of up to 3.4 degrees C”.

The report’s release comes as the Paris climate agreement comes into force today.

Achieving the agreement’s objectives will require “even stronger actions than previously identified” and “accelerated efforts pre-2020,” UNEP warned, as well as more ambitious emissions-cutting pledges from the signatory nations.  

Among the report’s findings were that global energy-related carbon emissions, which account for around 68 per cent of total emissions, have plateaued, and “even show[ed] signs of a weak decline” in 2015. However, UNEP noted that “it is still too early to say whether this is likely to be permanent”.  

According to UNEP’s analysis, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide stood at an estimated 36.2 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2015.  

Jacqueline McGlade, UNEP chief scientist, singled out coal-fired power, saying that building new coal power plants would be “entirely contradictory” to the world’s emissions reduction efforts.

"Anything that leads to an increase in greenhouse gases we see as detrimental," McGlade was quoted as saying. "From an environmental perspective [new coal-fired power capacity] is just a no-go.”

The full report may be found here

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