• United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s Emissions Gap Report 2020 has been published recently.
  • The annual report from UNEP measures the gap between anticipated emissions and levels consistent with the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming this century to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.

Analysis for the year 2019:

Record high GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions:

  • Global GHG emissions continued to grow for the third consecutive year in 2019, reaching a record high of 52.4 Gigatonne carbon equivalent (GtCO2e) without including land use changes (LUC).
  • There is some indication that the growth in global GHG emissions is slowing.
  • However, GHG emissions are declining in Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies and increasing in non-OECD economies.

Record carbon emission:

  • Fossil carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (from fossil fuels and carbonates) dominate total GHG emissions.
  • Fossil CO2 emissions reached a record 38.0 GtCO2 in 2019.

Forest fires increasing GHG emissions:

  • Since 2010, global GHG emissions have grown 1.4% per year on average, with a more rapid increase of 2.6% in 2019 due to a large increase in vegetation forest fires.

G20 countries account for bulk of emissions:

  • Over the last decade, the top four emitters (China, the United States of America, EU27+UK and India) have contributed to 55% of the total GHG emissions without LUC.
  • The top seven emitters (including the Russian Federation, Japan and international transport) have contributed to 65%, with G20 members accounting for 78%.
  • The ranking of countries changes when considering per capita emissions.

On consumption-based emissions:

  • There is a general tendency that rich countries have higher consumption-based emissions (emissions allocated to the country where goods are purchased and consumed, rather than where they are produced) than territorial-based emissions, as they typically have cleaner production, relatively more services and more imports of primary and secondary products.
  • Both emission types have declined at similar rates.

Impact of the Pandemic:

  • Emissions Level: CO2 emissions could decrease by about 7% in 2020 compared with 2019 emission levels, with a smaller drop expected in GHG emissions as non-CO2 is likely to be less affected.
  • The resulting atmospheric concentrations of GHGs such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) continued to increase in both 2019 and 2020.

Sector reporting the lowest dip in emission due to pandemic:

  • The biggest changes have occurred in transport, as restrictions were targeted to limit mobility, though reductions have also occurred in other sectors.

Issues and Possible Solutions:

  • The world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century.
  • The levels of ambition in the Paris Agreement still must be roughly tripled for the 2°C pathway and increased at least fivefold for the 1.5°C Pathway.
  • Rise of 3°C in global temperatures could cause catastrophic weather-related events around the world.
  • UN Experts believe the way to avoid it is encourage green recovery for countries facing Covid-induced economic slumps.
  • A green recovery involves investment in zero emissions tech and infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, stopping new coal plants, and promoting nature-based solutions, according to the UN.
  • Such actions could cut 25% of predicted emissions by 2030, and gives the planet a 66% chance of keeping warming below the 2°mark that the Paris pact had set as a long term goal.

United Nations Environment Programme

  • The UNEP is a leading global environmental authority established on 5th june 1972.
  • Functions: It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.
  • Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
  • Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.
  • Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya.

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