Thursday, November 20, 2014

World on Dangerous Emissions Path, U.N. Report Warns

Child looking at smokestack (Credit:
The world will not keep temperatures below dangerous thresholds despite U.S. EPA's efforts to clean up coal-fired power plants and recent pledges from the United States and China to curb carbon emissions, states a U.N. report released yesterday.

Nations have to invest heavily in renewable energy and energy efficiency to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2100 and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the report finds.

The Emissions Gap Report 2014 by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) is compiled by scientists and released annually in collaboration with the World Resources Institute. The report tracks the gap between nations' actual pledges for 2020 and 2030 and the pledges necessary to meet the 2 C target.

The report comes ahead of a climate conference next month in Lima, Peru, where negotiators will discuss a new global treaty expected to be signed in December 2015.

A number of nations have already agreed to new emissions targets.  The European Union has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The United States plans to cut emissions 25 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and China has committed to peaking CO2 emissions by 2030.  All nations are expected to table their preliminary pledges by March next year.

These measures are a good starting point but not enough in themselves to achieve the milestones on the path of avoiding climate disaster, the report states.

"Every year that has been passing, we've been falling further from the least-cost solution to climate change," said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute.

The report lays out the milestones for meeting the 2 C goal.  The world needs to cut its emissions by 15 percent below 2010 levels by 2030, it states.  By 2050, emissions need to be 55 percent of 2010 levels.  And by 2080, net emissions have to drop to zero.

The UNEP report is the first to set intermediate targets for negotiators.  Its recommendations are similar to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations' science body on climate, but the UNEP report assigns a concrete timeline for when the targets should be achieved.

"This important report underscores the reality that, at some point in the second half of the century, we need to have achieved climate neutrality -- or, as some term it, zero net or net zero -- in terms of overall global emissions," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Read More at World on Dangerous Emissions Path, U.N. Report Warns

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