UNEP Press Release:
More Ambition Needed if Greenhouse Gases are to Peak in Time, Says New UNEP ReportPledges Post Copenhagen Unlikely to Keep Temperatures Below 2 Degrees Celsius by Mid Century
Bali (Indonesia), 23 February 2010 - Countries will have to be far more ambitious in cutting greenhouse gas emissions if the world is to effectively curb a rise in global temperature at 2 degrees C or less.
This is the conclusion of a new greenhouse gas modeling study, based on the estimates of researchers at nine leading centres, compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The experts (see notes to editors) suggest that annual global greenhouse gas emissions should not be larger than 40 to 48.3 Gigatonnes (Gt) of equivalent C02 in 2020 and should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021.
They also estimate that between 2020 and 2050, global emissions need to fall by between 48 per cent and 72 per cent, indicating that an ambition to cut greenhouse gases by around three per cent a year over that 30 year period is also needed.
Such a path offers a 'medium' likelihood or at least a 50/50 chance of keeping a global temperature rise at below 2 degrees C, says the new report.
The new study, launched on the eve of UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum taking place in Bali, Indonesia, has analyzed the pledges of 60 developed and developing economies.
They have been recently submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) following the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in December.
The nine modeling centres have now estimated how far these pledges go towards meeting a reasonable 'peak' in emissions depending on whether the high or the low intentions are met.
"The expected emissions for 2020 range between 48.8 to 51.2 GT of CO2 equivalent based on whether high or low pledges will be fulfilled," says the report.
The report, as noted earlier, says that in order to meet the 2 degree C aim in 2050, emissions in 2020 need to be between 40 Gt and 48.3 Gt.
Thus even with the best intentions there is a gap of between 0.5 and 8.8Gt of CO2 equivalent per year, amounting to an average shortfall in emission cuts of 4.7 Gt.
If the low end of the emission reduction pledges are fulfilled, the gap is even bigger-2.9 Gt to 11.2 Gt of CO2 equivalent per year, with an average gap of 7.1 Gt says the report How Close Are We to the Two Degree Limit?
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "There are clearly a great deal of assumptions underlying these figures, but they do provide an indication of where countries are and perhaps more importantly where they need to aim."
"There clearly is 'Gigatonne gap' which may be a significant one according some of the modelers. This needs to be bridged and bridged quickly if the international community is to pro-actively manage emissions down in a way that makes economic sense," he added.
"There are multiple reasons for countries to make a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy of which climate change is a key one. But energy security, cuts in air pollution and diversifying energy sources are also important drivers," said Mr Steiner.
"This week at the UNEP GC/GMEF we will also shine a light on the opportunities ranging from accelerating clean tech and renewable energy enterprises to the climate, social and economic benefits of investing in terrestrial and marine ecosystems," he added.
How Close Are We to the Two Degree Limit?-An information note to the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
This paper was prepared by the Chief Scientist of UNEP with input from representatives of the following groups: The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (D. van Vuuren and M. den Elzen), Ecofys (N. Höhne), Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Germany (M. Meinshausen and J. Rogeli), Climate Analytics (M. Schaeffer), UNEP Risø Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development, Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark (Jorgen Fenhann and John Christensen), National Center for Atmospheric Research, United States (B. O'Neill), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (K. Riahi), Met Office Hadley Center, United Kingdom (J. Lowe), Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, United Kingdom (C. Taylor, A. Bowen, N. Ranger.)