United Nations Says Greenhouse Gas Reductions too Slow

United Nations Says Greenhouse Gas Reductions too Slow

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United Nations Says Greenhouse Gas Reductions too Slow

 

On November 21, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and European Climate Foundation released a report stating actions against climate change need to accelerate and grow faster than current trends if the world wants global temperatures to rise less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100.  Current pledges by industrialized countries show that temperatures will rise 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if immediate action is not taken.  Such increases can increase the frequency of natural disasters, spread disease, damage crops, endanger coastal cities, and more. 

The Emissions Gap Report was released a few days before the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha.  The report states that greenhouse gas emissions are 14 percent higher that they should be by 2020, and the report states that the release of carbon dioxide is actually increasing.  If no action is taken immediately, emissions of greenhouse gases will reach 58 gigatonnes (Gt) by 2020.  Assessments conclude the emissions need to be 44 Gt of less by 2020 in order to allow further reductions in the future that are reasonable in cost. 

Achin Steiner, the UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, stressed: “There are two realities encapsulated in this report-that bridging the gap remains do-able with existing technologies and policies.”

For one, there are actions on the national level occurring around the world to make buildings more efficient, increase standards for new vehicle emissions levels, reduce deforestation, and invest in green energies. 

Mr. Steiner provided a less optimistic reality though: “Yet the sobering fact remains that a transition to a low carbon, inclusive Green Economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 Gt target is narrowing annually.”

Talks in Doha will have to implement swift decisions and extend the Kyoto protocol as well.  The Kyoto protocol is the only international agreement that reduces greenhouse emissions in industrialized countries, but the protocol expires at the end of this year. 

According to the report, the following cuts are needed to reach emissions goals by 2020.  1.5 to 4.6 Gt of CO2 equivalent emissions need cut by improved energy efficiency; 1.1 to 4.3 Gt need cut in agriculture; 1.3 to 4.2 Gt need cut in forestry; 2.2 to 3.9 Gt need cut in the power sector; 1.4 to 2.9 Gt need cut with efficient buildings, 1.7 to 2.5 Gt need cut in shipping in aviation; and 0.8 Gt need cut in the waste sector. 

Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated: “This report is a reminder that time is running out, but that the technical means and the policy tools to allow the world to stay below a maximum 2 degrees Celsius are still available to governments and societies.”

Source: United Nations Environment Programme

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