Emissions Gap Report 2020: UNEP | 10 Dec 2020

Why in News

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.

Key Points

  • 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.
    • 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.