Greenhouse Gas Emissions & Climate Change

ImageTotal greenhouse gas emissions have risen from around 40 gigatonnes in 2000 to an estimated 50.1 gigatonnes in 2010

If the world does not act upon the climate change dilemma soon, emissions could rise to 58 gigatonnes (Gt) by 2020, says a new report. It’s another call for action, this time by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). This week’s Climate Change Conference of Parties in Doha could make all the difference in the world’s future.

Economic assessments highlighted in the Emissions Gap Report 2012 indicate that overall costs will increase considerably if emissions reductions are delayed until after 2020. Delaying action may well cause irreversible damage to the environment and a heavier long-term dependence on mitigation technologies such as bioenergy and carbon capture and storage.

The Emissions Gap Report 2012 points out that even if the most ambitious level of pledges and commitments were implemented by all countries – and under the strictest set of rules – there would be a gap of 8 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2020. This is 2 Gt higher than last year’s assessment.

The report looked at sectors where the necessary emissions reductions may be possible by 2020. Improved energy efficiency in certain sectors could deliver a variety of cuts in emissions:

  • industry: 1.5 to 4.6 Gt of CO2 equivalent
  • agriculture: 1.1 to 4.3 Gt
  • forestry: 1.3 to 4.2 Gt
  • the power sector: 2.2 to 3.9 Gt
  • buildings:1.4 to 2.9 Gt
  • transportation including shipping and aviation:1.7 to 2.5 Gt
  • the waste sector: ~0.8 Gt

The building sector has even bigger potential over the long term with cuts of over 9Gt CO₂ equivalent by 2050. The report also recommends polices and measures that encourage improved land planning and alternative mobility options (e.g. buses, cycling, walking) and better use of rail freight and inland waterways to improve the transportation sector.

“Governments meeting in Doha for COP18 now need to urgently implement existing decisions which will allow for a swifter transition towards a low-carbon and resilient world, ” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Third Emissions Gap Report 2012 is available here.

Reference: UNEP


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