Nations must triple efforts to reach 2°C target

27-11-2018 | News item

Nations must triple efforts to reach 2°C target according to 2018 annual Emissions Gap report by UNEP. It is still possible to keep global warming below 2°C, but the technical feasibility of bridging the 1.5°C gap is dwindling. Researchers of PBL were among the leading and contributing authors of this study. 

If the emission gap is not closed by 2030, achieving the 2 °C temperature goal will become unlikely

Global emissions are on the rise, as national commitments to combat climate change come up short. But surging momentum from the private sector and untapped potential from innovation and green financing offer pathways to bridging the emission gap. The authors of the Emissions Gap Report 2018 present these findings, along with a sweeping review of climate action and the latest measurements of global emissions.

Every year, the flagship report from UN Environment presents a definitive assessment of the so-called emission gap—the gap between the anticipated emission levels of 2030, compared to levels consistent with achieving a 2 °C / 1.5 °C target.

The findings offer the latest accounting of national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.

Global greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2017, after three years of no growth

The evidence outlined here, just days before the start of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), shows global emissions have reached historic levels, at 53.5 GtCO2e, with no signs of peaking—the point when emissions switch from increasing to decreasing. The authors’ assessment shows that only 57 countries (representing 60% of global emissions) are on track to do so by 2030.

Nations must triple their efforts to achieve the 2 °C target

Analysis and a review of the progress set against national commitments under the Paris Agreement makes clear that the current pace of national action is insufficient for achieving the Paris targets. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap figure for this year’s report is larger than ever. Translated into climate action, the authors conclude that nations must triple their ambition levels to achieve the 2 °C target and make five times the current effort if they are to achieve no more than a 1.5 °C increase in the global temperature.

A continuation of current trends will likely result in a global warming of around 3.2 °C by the end of the century, with rising temperatures continuing after that, according to the report’s findings.

It is still possible to keep global warming below 2 °C, but the technical feasibility of bridging the 1.5 °C gap is dwindling

The Emissions Gap Report 2018 highlights that there is still a possibility for bridging the emission gap and keeping global warming below 2 °C. The report offers new insight into what meaningful climate action will look like, for this to succeed. Through new analysis of global emissions in the context of fiscal policy, the current pace of innovation and an exhaustive review of climate action from the private sector and on sub-national levels, the authors offer a roadmap for implementing the type of transformative action required to maximise the potential in each of these sectors.

Action by sub-national and non-state actors is key to enhancing future ambitions

Ranging from city, regional and national government to companies, investors, institutions and civil society organisations, non-state actors are increasingly committing to bold climate action. These institutions are increasingly recognised as a key element in achieving global emission goals. Although estimates of the emission reduction potential vary widely across studies, one more comprehensive study mentions 19 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2030. This would be enough to close the 2 °C gap.

The ninth Emissions Gap Report was prepared by an international team of leading scientists, who assessed all available information, including that published in the context of the IPCC Special Report, as well as in other recent scientific studies. PBL researchers were among the leading and contributing authors of this study.