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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap report

A new assessment from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) The Emission Gap Report: Are the Copenhagen Accord Pledges Sufficient to Limit…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new assessment from UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) The Emission Gap Report: Are the Copenhagen Accord Pledges Sufficient to Limit Global Warming to 2°C or 1.5°C was published today.

The report brought together a number of leading researchers from across the word to examine target pledges from the Copenhagen Accord Appendices and to explore the extent to which planned actions are consistent with a path towards avoiding a rise in global average temperature of more than 2°C. The report follows on from a paper by EU science experts on Copenhagen Accord pledges.

Key findings include:

  • There is a gap between the science and the current ambition levels
  • The size of the gap is dependent on what happens in the negotiations
  • The options on the table in the negotiations have the potential to reduce emissions by 7 GtCO2e against business as usual
  • This can be achieved by realising countries’ highest ambitions and ensuring “strict” rules result from the negotiations
  • The gap between business as usual projections and what the science says is necessary for 2°C is 12 GtCO2e
  • It is feasible to bridge the remaining gap of 5 GtCO2e through more ambitious domestic actions, some of which could be supported by international climate finance
  • With or without a gap, current studies indicate that steep emission reductions are needed post-2020 to meet temperature targets

Responding to the report Energy and Climate Change Secretary The Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP said:

“The UNEP report shows that despite some progress the world still needs to go further and faster in cutting emissions - and that includes the EU which must accept a more ambitious goal, of a 30% cut in emissions by 2020. Taking action now isn’t only right for our climate, but it’ll be cheaper in the long run than having to catch up by doing more after 2020. At Cancun, the UK’s pushing to include the Copenhagen mitigation pledges in the formal UN process so they can be properly considered.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said:

“The report underlines both the feasibility of emission reductions and the importance of international cooperation to raise the current inadequate level of ambition. Governments meeting at the UN Climate Conference in Cancun will need to both anchor the pledges they made in Copenhagen in the UN context and to work swiftly to agree ways to reduce emissions so that the world has a chance of staying below a 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.”

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Published 17 November 2010