UN finds Paris pact gaps

A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme has suggested that the Paris Agreement would fail to restrict the global temperature rise within 2°C, as agreed at the Paris climate summit of 2015.

It says that even if all the countries fully meet their commitments to cut emissions as expressed in their respective “nationally determined contributions”‘ (NDCs) in Paris, it would address “approximately one-third of the emissions reductions” targeted. The report has termed the gap “alarmingly high”.

As for India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in Delhi on Thursday that the average temperature rise in the country has already touched 1.5°C – and is on the way to 2°C – through the year except the monsoon months.

The UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2017 says that “more ambitious NDCs will be necessary by 2020”, the year the Paris Agreement is set to be implemented.

It warns that if the emission gap between commitment and reality is not closed by 2030, the objective of restricting the rise in global temperatures within 2°C from the pre-industrialised era would become extremely unlikely.

The report has identified the areas where significant emission cuts can be achieved to reduce global emissions “by up to 30 to 40” gigatonnes a year at minimum cost.

“It is remarkable that a large part of this potential comes from just six relatively standardised categories: solar and wind energy, efficient appliances, efficient passenger cars, afforestation and stopping deforestation. These six present a combined potential of up to 22 gigatonnes per annum,” the report says.

“Political, industrial and civil leaders are strengthening and implementing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; yet current state pledges cover no more than a third of the emission reductions needed, creating a dangerous gap, which even growing momentum from non-state actors cannot close,” warned Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme.

The report comes a week before the CoP 23 climate conference is to start in Bonn, Germany.

“In Bonn, strengthening of the NDCs will be a critical issue along with the question of how the world, especially the developed countries, would deal with climate change with the United States now out of the Paris Agreement,” said Chandra Bhushan, a climate expert with the CSE.

The UN report, prepared by a team of international scientists who considered all the available recent scientific studies, stresses the need for G20 countries to strengthen their NDCs. At a recent G20 meeting, all countries except the US pledged to stand by their climate commitments.