Climate plans could reduce emissions significantly, yet still fall short of 2 °C

24-11-2015 | News item

Climate plans submitted by countries in the run-up to the Paris Summit could deliver significant reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases. Without new climate policies, the world would emit about 65 GtCO2 equivalents by 2030. The unconditional INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) (plans made by countries without conditions attached) could reduce emissions by approximately 9 GtCO2 eq. Additional implementation of all conditional INDCs (which would require some form of international climate finance or international cooperation) would increase this projected reduction by about a further 11 GtCO2 eq to about 54 GtCO2 eq by 2030. Despite these reductions, global emissions will still continue to increase until at least 2030. It would also still leave an emission gap of 14 GtCO2 eq to the 2030 global emission levels needed for keeping the temperature increase below 2 °C.

These are the main conclusions of an assessment of the INDCs of 102 countries by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and IIASA, Austria. Together, these 102 countries are responsible for 89% of global greenhouse gas emissions today. The research served as input for the new UNEP Emissions Gap Report, to be launched at the climate summit in Paris.

Substantive reductions by Brazil, China, EU28, India and the United States

The researchers have also analysed individual INDCs of G20 members and compared them to a business-as-usual scenario where no new climate policies were implemented. The full implementation of the INDCs of the G20 countries are projected to reduce emissions by approximately 9 to 10 GtCO2 eq by 2030, and substantive emission reductions can be expected from Brazil, China, the EU28, India and the United States.

Middle-income countries peak before 2025

For a likely chance of keeping the temperature increase below 2 °C, global emissions need to peak before 2025. The assessment shows that emissions in middle-income countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil and South Korea, are expected to peak before 2025. Emissions in China, India and South Africa are expected to peak by 2030 or later. Emissions in most high-income countries have already peaked in the past. The largest relative emission reductions in 2030 are projected for Australia, Brazil and Canada.

Per capita emissions projected to decline

Based on the submitted INDCs, per capita emission levels are projected to decline between 2010 and 2030 in all G20 countries, except Argentina, China, India, the Russian Federation and Turkey. Similarly, emissions intensities (emissions per GDP) are projected to decline between 2010 and 2030 in all G20 countries, except Turkey, indicating a relative decoupling of economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions.

Some countries are on track for -2 °C

Although the aggregate effect of submitted INDCs is projected to lead to on-going increasing emissions until 2030 and to be insufficient to close the global emission gap, INDCs of some countries and regions will still put them on track to stay below -2 °C pathways - notably the EU and the United States.