United Nations sees no sign yet of GHG emissions peak

29 November 2019

Global temperatures are on course to rise by as much as 3.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, according to the United Nations Environment Programme's latest Emissions Gap Report. Emissions must now fall by 7.6% each year to stop the worst effects of climate change.

GHG emissions have risen by 1.5% per year in the last decade (Image: UNEP)

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have risen at a rate of 1.5% per year in the last decade, stabilising only briefly between 2014 and 2016, according to the report. Total GHG emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 55.3 GtCO2e in 2018. Fossil CO2 emissions from energy use and industry, which dominate total GHG emissions, grew 2% in 2018, reaching a record 37.5 GtCO2 per year.

"There is no sign of GHG emissions peaking in the next few years; every year of postponed peaking means that deeper and faster cuts will be required. By 2030, emissions would need to be 25% and 55% lower than in 2018 to put the world on the least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees and 1.5 degrees, respectively," the report says.

It presents the latest data on the expected gap in 2030 for the 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement. It considers different scenarios, from no new climate policies since 2005 to full implementation of all national commitments under the agreement. For the first time, it looks at how large annual cuts would need to be from 2020 to 2030 to stay on track to meeting the Paris goals.

Every year, the report features ways to bridge the gap. This year, the report looks at the potential of the energy transition - particularly in the power, transport and buildings sectors - and efficiency in the use of materials such as iron steel and cement.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News