The third issue of the Emissions Gap Report provides a sobering assessment of the gulf between ambition and reality in respect to keeping a global average temperature rise this century under 2 degrees Celsius.
As in previous Gap reports, designed to inform governments in advance of the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and empower scaled-up action, the analysis focuses on how nations are faring towards bringing emissions down to around 44 gigatonnes of CO 2 equivalent or less by year 2020.
The result of this year’s analysis shows that without action, emissions are likely to be at 58 gigatonnes (Gt) in eight years’ time, leaving a gap that is now bigger than it was in earlier assessments, as a result of projected economic growth in particular in key developing economies.
Analysis shows that there would still be a gap of 8 Gt of CO 2 equivalent by 2020. This is 2 Gt higher than last year’s assessment with yet another year passing by.
Even if the most ambitious level of pledges and commitments were implemented by all countries under the strictest set of rules, the analysis shows that there would still be a gap of 8 Gt of CO 2 equivalent by 2020. This is 2 Gt higher than last year’s assessment with yet another year passing by.
Can the gap be bridged by 2020? From a technical standpoint the answer remains yes with an estimated potential to bring down emissions by 17 Gt by the 2020 timeline – the challenge is that current investments in buildings, transportation systems, factories, and other infrastructure are “locking in” high energy use patterns and associated emissions for decades, limiting future options for abating emissions.
The 2012 Report for the first time reviews a number of successful policy actions that have been effective in substantially reducing emissions at the national level. For example, appliance standards, performance standards for vehicles, and economic incentives to reduce deforestation to name but three.