Carbon Emission Report Signals Need For Increased Efforts

There is good news and bad news in the United Nation's eighth Emissions Gap Report – the 2017 edition – released Tuesday, but the bottom line is a immediate need for countries around the globe to increase efforts to curb carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming.

nuclear power

The overarching conclusions of the report are that there is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced long-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable,” the report says. While that is the bad news, “practical and cost-effective options are available to make this possible,” including a more determined reliance on nuclear power, according to the report.

The Paris accord of 2015 allows nations to set up their own goals on emissions reductions, which are designed to meet the target of 2 degrees Celsius (or less) rise in global temperatures to avert catastrophic environmental disruptions. The report notes that the current goals fall short of that potential goal “by far.”

Furthermore, the consequences only accelerate if the early goals are not reached. “Looking beyond 2030,” the initial target date for a 2 degree Celsius or lower temperature change, “it is clear that if the emissions gap is not closed … it is extremely unlikely that the goal of holding global warming to well below 2 degrees C can still be reached,” the report says. “Even if the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are fully implemented, the carbon budget for limiting global warming … will be about 80 percent depleted by 2030.”

To the scientific community at least, the failure of the Paris Agreement to reach its target was not only a foregone conclusion, but the target for limiting global temperature change (2 degrees Celsius) was extremely generous with regards to acceptable environmental impact. To many, the Paris Agreement was an acceptable starting point and nothing more than that. From the point of view of pragmatism, on the other hand, having 197 nations around the world all reach their very modest goals would, by itself, have also been a miraculous achievement.

The report explains why industries are targeted. "About 70 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions are derived from fossil fuel combustion, cement production and other industrial processes.” In this, the eighth Emissions Gap Report, “there is increasing evidence that these emissions have remained more or less stable for the past three years, reversing the previous tendency of increases each year.”

The primary gains have been made by a reduction in coal use in China, first and foremost, and the United State secondarily.

With that in mind, the report notes that the globe's G20 countries, a representing a sizable percentage of the developed economies of the world, are collectively responsible for about 75 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the report notes that “their success in implementing (or exceeding) their NDC pledges will have a major impact on the achievement of the global temperament goals.”

Yet, not all G20 nations are on track to do so. Brazil, China, India and Russia “are likely to – or are roughly on track to – achieve their 2030 NED targets with currently implemented policies. Conversely, Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the Republic of Korea and the United States are likely to require further action in order to meet their NDCs.”

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