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Five Things to Know About Emissions Gap Report 2019

The world is striving to fight climate change by making efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions in every sector. Various climate summits are inspiring the companies as well as the people who are willing to participate in the climate action movement. At such a time, it is crucial to track progress towards globally agreed climate goals. For this purpose, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report is released since a decade which compares where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be.

What is the Emissions Gap report?

The 2019 emissions gap report has highlighted the latest data on the expected gap in 2030 for the 1.5°C and 2°C temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. The report has taken into consideration, various scenarios, from no new climate policies since 2005 to full implementation of all national commitments under the Paris Agreement. However, the report has concluded that the progress has been rather slow and it would need large annual cuts from 2020 to 2030 to be able to meet the Paris goals.

Why is it important to close the Emissions Gap?

It is important to close the emissions gap because failing to do that can cause increasingly severe climate impacts worldwide. It is important that governments and citizens know the importance of closing the gap in order to frame a holistic policy to tackle climate change effectively and to turn it into a national or a global movement with local participation.

What does the Emissions Gap Report of 2019 say?

The report has said that in the 10 years of producing the emissions gap report, the gap between what we should be doing and our current actions is very wide.
On the brink of 2020, there is a need to reduce emissions by 7.6 per cent every year from 2020 to 2030. Absence of action in that direction the temperatures can be expected to rise 3.2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Which countries are responsible for emissions?

G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions. Of these, only five G20 members (the EU and four individual members) have committed to long-term zero-emission targets, of which three are currently in the process of passing legislation and two have recently passed legislation. The top four emitters (China, USA, EU28 and India) contribute to over 55 per cent of the total emissions over the last decade, excluding emissions from a land-use change such as deforestation. Including emissions from land-use will make Brazil the highest emitter.

How can we close the gap?

The energy sector is responsible for the largest share of emissions. In order to reduce the gap, a full decarbonisation of the energy sector has been recommended by the report. The two most important factors in bringing about this change are renewables and energy efficiency.
The potential emission reduction by employing renewable energy electricity could be up to 12.1 gigatonnes by 2050. This is enough to cover the output by coal power stations and can completely eliminate its need.
The decarbonised energy can then be used in various sectors such as transport. Electrification of transport could reduce the sector’s COemissions by a huge 72 per cent by 2050. Each sector and each country has unique opportunities to harness renewable energy, protect natural resources, lives and livelihoods, and transition to a decarbonisation pathway. However without a proper framework, structured implementation and participation from all the stakeholders, it will be very difficult to meet the climate goals.