World heading for 3 degree rise in temperatures

M. Ramesh | | Updated on: Dec 09, 2020
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The world is heating up far more than is within the ability of human beings to cope.

Every year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) brings out an ‘Emissions Gap Report’, which measures the difference between what the global emissions of greenhouse gases are compared with what they should be, if global warming is to be limited to the target of 2 degree Celsius, or the ‘ambition’ of 1.5 degree Celsius.

EGR 2020 has just been brought out and the message is not good. Despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions due to Covid-19, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3 degree C, by the end of this century.

“The year 2020 is on course to be one of the warmest on record, while wildfires, storms and droughts continue to wreak havoc,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.

GHG emissions

In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions were a record 59.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, partly due to a large increase in forest fires. In 2020, due to reduced travel, lower industrial activity and lower electricity generation, emissions are predicted to fall by 7 per cent. “However, this dip only translates to a 0.01°C reduction of global warming by 2050,” says the report.

The report calls for a “green pandemic recovery”, by increasing net-zero emission commitments.

Paris accord

A lot depends upon the outcome of the next Conference of Parties meeting, which is to take place in Glasgow in November 2021. If successful, the CoP would have completed the process of making rules for operationalising the Paris Agreement of 2015. Only one — but a crucial one — part remains to be negotiated, which is the rules for operating the carbon markets.

“The wealthy bear greatest responsibility: the emissions of the richest one per cent of the global population account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50 per cent. This group will need to reduce its footprint by a factor of 30 to stay in line with the Paris Agreement targets,” the EGR 2020 says.

Possible actions to support and enable lower carbon consumption include replacing domestic short haul flights with rail, incentives and infrastructure to enable cycling and car-sharing, improving the energy efficiency of housing and policies to reduce food waste, it says.

Published on December 09, 2020

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