With the ongoing onslaught of climate change globally, it seems that we are still not taking it rightly. We are again not doing what we need to do. We still do not understand the grave consequences of climate change. As per the UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2018, the objective of Paris Agreement 2015 on climate change is to keeping the rise of global temperature less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in this century and making efforts to limit the increase of temperature further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
An international team of leading scientists prepares this report after assessing all the information that is available. The report presents an assessment of the emissions concerning Nationally Determined Contributions of every G20 members including EU, their present national mitigation efforts besides an update on emissions of global greenhouse gases. The report also features the ways to bridge the emission gap that still exists. According to the earlier Cancun pledges, national level actions also get assessed in this regard.
As per UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2018, the government action is found insufficient despite national pledges to meet the target of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to limit the global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius this century and more ambitious target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Governments, however, seem to be nowhere near ambitious to accomplish the temperature target of the Paris agreement.
As per the yearly assessment, global greenhouse gas emissions increased to 53.5 billion tones “historic levels” in 2017 after a 3-year decline, without further peaking. In that case, the rise in emissions and lagging action will intensely increase the gap to meet the target. Now the nations have to move three times faster with their operation to meet the warming target of 2C and five times faster for more ambitious 1.5 C of Paris Agreement 2015.
In any case, unless the emission gap is closed by 2030, it is highly unlikely to reach the 2C temperature goal as reported by UNEP. The result would be devastating accompanied by extreme weather, the rise in sea level, end of coral reef and most importantly rendering a large chunk of the global population to face climate risks.
Now, the questions arise whether it is possible to bridge the emissions gap within the year 2030 and the main underlying opportunities in that case. The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2018 says that enhanced ambition and strengthened actions of nations would help reduce the global GHG emissions only by understanding the technical mitigation potential; applying universally current good-practice policies; boosting sustainable development benefits, and doing gap-filling in NDC coverage.
In this present scenario, after few days, 200 countries will be participating in the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland or COP24 to hammer the pledge taken in Paris and follow a “rule book” to materialize the plan. Besides, the upcoming dire report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set a time period of 12 years to reduce the emissions drastically.
IPCC report rings a global fire alarm because there are means to extinguish the global fire of climate change but the government has to move faster and with greater urgency. The emissions lower by 25% and 55% in 2030 would put the world back on track to reach global warming targets 2 C and 1.5 C respectively.
Good news is it is possible to close the emission gap. The “Non-State Actors” like state governments, regional governments, cities, investors, companies, civil society organizations, and higher education institutions if act responsibly, could reduce the emission of CO2 equivalent around 19 gigatonnes by 2030 and can close the 2C gap.
As per Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, these “Non-State Actors” are already moving forward. Renewable power is emerging fast under corporate leadership. Bans on oil-fuelled vehicles in cities are increasing. Regional governments, investors and banks are committed to cut coal power and fossil fuels. The UN thus created the “People’s Seat” for everyone to share views at the climate talks and join the ongoing efforts to help reach the set goals.