The latest UNEP report released ahead of COP27, ‘Closing Window: Climate Crisis Demands Rapid Transformation of Societies’, finds the international community falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible path towards 1, 5°C The latest report is a testament to inaction in the face of the global climate crisis.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) recently published the thirteenth edition of the Annual Emissions Gap Report before 27the Conference of the Parties which is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. As the name suggests, the report highlights global trends in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and provides an overview of the gap between projected 2030 emissions and levels that will remain the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C.
The latest report, ‘Closing window: the climate crisis demands a rapid transformation of societies‘ finds that the international community is well below the Paris targets, with no credible path to 1.5°C. The latest report is a testament to inaction in the face of the global climate crisis. He noted that despite the decision taken in COP26 in 2021 held in Glasgow, UK to strengthen Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2030, progress has been poor.
Global GHG emissions are reaching new record levels
According to the report, the growth rate of global GHG emissions was slower than in previous decades. The average annual growth rate was 1.1% per year between 2010 and 2019, while it was 2.6% in the period 2000-2009, thanks to the reduction of new coal capacity additions and the switch to gas and renewable energy sources instead of coal.
However, total global GHG emissions were 54.4 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) between 2010 and 2019, the highest in history. Emissions are expected to remain the same as 2019 levels or increase further in 2021. GHG emissions excluding those from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) was 52.8 GtCOtwoe in 2021 vs. 52.6 GtCOtwoe in 2019. In 2020, due to the pandemic, total global GHG emissions fell by 4.7% compared to 2019. It was the largest absolute drop in a single year since 1970. However, towards the end of 2020, the CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry had recovered.
The G20 countries are solely responsible for 75% of global emissions
In 2020, seven countries (China, US, European Union, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Russia, which are members of the G20) and international transport contributed more than 55% of total GHG emissions. The emissions of these 8 emitters were 32.8 GtCOtwoe in 2019, falling 3.8% to 31.5 GtCO2e in 2020. Together, the G20 nations contributed 75% of total emissions in 2020. China, India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia’s emissions in 2021 were higher than in 2019, the year before the pandemic. While emissions increased 5.9% in China and 6.8% in Indonesia in this period from 2019 to 2021, emission from international transport was 15.9% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Although in 2020, India became the third largest GHG emitter after China and the US, India’s per capita GHG emission was only 2.4 tCOtwoe, much lower than the global average of 6.3 tCOtwome. The average annual per capita emission of the least developed countries was 2.3 tCOtwoand, according to the report. On the other hand, despite a decline in per capita emissions over the past decade, the US per capita emission was 14 tCO2e and Russia’s 13 tCO2e. Among the other main emitters, the per capita emission of China was 9.7 tCO2e while those of Brazil and Indonesia were 7.5 tCOtwoeach and that of the European Union was 7.2 tCOtwome.
US and EU responsible for 42% of cumulative emissions between 1850 and 2019
The US contributed 25% of the total fossil COtwo emissions from 1850 to 2019, while the European Union contributed 17%. China was responsible for 13% and Russia for 7%. Only 3% was contributed by India and 1% by Brazil and Indonesia. The least developed countries contributed 0.5% of total emissions during this period.
Based on current practices, a temperature rise of 2.8°C is expected by 2100
The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a climate action plan to reduce emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Countries define goals and measures to achieve them, and monitor progress toward achieving the goal. At COP26, member countries adopted Glasgow Climate Pact and revised its NDCs with reinforced targets to achieve the Paris goals. But the revised NDCs were such that they could only reduce projected greenhouse gas emissions by 1% by 2030. That’s roughly equivalent to 0.5 gigatonnes of COtwo. In other words, this would make a negligible difference to projected emissions over the next 8 years. Furthermore, none of the G20 members are on track to achieve the new or updated NDCs.
If policies currently being implemented are not improved, a temperature rise of 2.8°C is projected this century against the Paris targets of limiting temperature rise to 2°C and 1.5° c. Even if all the unconditional NDCs are achieved or those NDCs for which countries do not require any financial or technical support from other countries, the temperature may still rise 2.6°C by 2100. If the conditional NDCs are also achieved, then the temperature will rise can be limited to 2.4 °C. If all NDC and net-zero commitments are achieved, an increase of 1.8 °C is expected. However, this is highly unlikely considering how far all countries are from near-term NDC targets.
GHG emissions must be reduced by 30-45% to meet the Paris targets. To do this, GHG emissions must be reduced to ‘unprecedented levels’ by 2030, and even after that, emissions must continue to decline. To reduce GHG emissions at such massive levels, ‘broad, large-scale, rapid and systemic transformation‘ is required in a limited period.
Food systems are responsible for a third of all emissions
The report focuses on food systems, which account for a third of all emissions or 18 GtCO2e per year, as well as contributing to other environmental damage such as land use change, biodiversity loss, resource depletion of fresh water and the contamination of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. ecosystems About 39% of this (7.1 GtCO2e) came from agricultural production, which includes the production of inputs such as fertilizers. Land use changes contributed 32% (5.7 GtCO2e), and supply chain activities were responsible for 29% (5.2 GtCO2e).twome). Supply chain activities include retail, transportation, consumption, fuel production, waste management, industrial processes, and packaging.
A study found that emissions from the food sector alone were enough to override the Paris targets
Food system emissions alone have been projected to be as high as 30 GtCOtwoe/year by 2050. An analysis of Our world in data revealed that even if fossil fuel emissions were reduced to zero, emissions from the food sector alone would be enough to raise the temperature by 1.5°C. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), CGIAR and the Rockefeller Foundation are accommodation the first official ‘Food and Agriculture Pavilion’ at COP27 which will have discussions dedicated to the food system and agriculture.
In this sense, the report calls for changes in the diet on the demand side (including the fight against food waste), the protection of natural ecosystems, improvements in food production at the agricultural level and the decarbonization of supply chains. food supply, which is expected to reduce emissions by one. third of current levels by 2050. Otherwise, emissions are expected to double. In addition, changes at the individual level and the involvement of the private sector along with government support, such as subsidies and fiscal reforms, have been suggested.
The financial system must overcome its limitations
An annual investment of USD 4-6 trillion is needed for the global transition to a low-carbon economy. To make this possible, the report calls for a transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, involving governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors. Six public policy approaches have been suggested in the report to help with finances. These are:
- Improve the efficiency of financial markets with the help of taxonomies and transparency.
- Introduce carbon pricing in the form of taxes or cap-and-trade systems.
- Drive financial behavior with the help of public policy interventions, taxes, spending, and regulations.
- Create markets for low-carbon technology by changing financial flows, stimulating innovation and helping to set standards.
- Mobilize central banks to take more concrete action on regulations.
- Establish climate ‘clubs’ of cooperating countries and cross-border financial initiatives that can alter political norms and change the course of finance through credible financial engagement devices, such as sovereign guarantees.
India has approved updated NDCs
Meanwhile, the Indian government passed an update of the Indian NDCs. Some of the policy measures taken by the Indian government include the promotion of electric vehicles (EV), the inclusion of agroforestry and private forestry, solarization of agricultural pumps, clean cooking (by switching to liquefied petroleum gas [LPG]), solar photovoltaic on roof, among others. In recognition of the role of lifestyles, the Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE) movement has been proposed to foster a citizen-centric approach to combating climate change.
Main photo: Emissions Gap Report, 2022