UNEP has released the Emissions Gap Report 2022. As growing climate change impacts are experienced across the globe, the message that greenhouse gas emissions must fall is unambiguous. Read here to know the gist of the report.
The “Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies” finds that the international community is falling far short of the Paris agreement goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place.
Only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid climate disaster.
The report is the 13th edition in an annual series that provides an overview of the difference between where greenhouse emissions are predicted to be in 2030 and where they should be to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
This report provides an in-depth exploration of how to deliver this transformation, looking at the required actions in the electricity supply, industry, transport and buildings sectors, and the food and financial systems.
What is Emissions Gap?
According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report:
“The emissions gap is defined as the difference between the estimated total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the full implementation of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and the total global GHG emissions from least-cost pathways consistent with the Paris Agreement long-term goal of limiting global average temperature increase to well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels.”
Or in other words, the gap between promised and needed emission reductions.
Key findings of Emissions Gap Report 2022
The report shows that:
- The updated national pledges since COP26 (2021 in Glasgow, UK) make a negligible difference to predicted 2030 emissions.
- We are far from the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C.
- Policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century.
- Implementation of the current pledges will only reduce this to a 2.4-2.6°C temperature rise by the end of the century, for conditional and unconditional pledges respectively.
The report finds that only an urgent system-wide transformation can deliver the enormous cuts needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2030:
- 45 percent compared with projections based on policies currently in place to get on track to 1.5°C and 30 percent for 2°C.
Global emissions trend:
- While the rate of growth in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the past decade has slowed compared to the previous decade, average GHG emissions in the last decade were the highest on record.
- Between 2010 and 2019, average annual growth was 1.1 percent per year, compared to 2.6 percent per year between 2000 and 2009.
Reasons for this decadal slowdown include a global reduction in new coal capacity additions (particularly in China), the steady substitution of coal for gas in the power sectors of developed countries, and the increasing pace of renewable energy deployments worldwide.
- The top seven emitters – China, the EU27, India, Indonesia, Brazil, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America- plus international transport accounted for 55% of global GHG emissions in 2020.
- For these countries GHG emissions rebounded in 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
- Collectively, G20 members are responsible for 75% of global GHG (Greenhouse Gas Emission) emissions.
- The global average per capita GHG emissions was 6.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020.
- India remains far below the world average at 2.4 tCO2e.
Food systems are major contributors to climate change and other environmental problems, such as:
- land-use change and biodiversity loss
- depletion of freshwater resources
- pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through nitrogen and phosphorus run-off from fertilizer and manure application
The area under organic farming is increasing on all continents with close to 75 million ha globally in 2020 (1.6 percent of global farmland) compared to 11 Mha in 1999.
The contribution of organic farming to the overall reduction in GHG emissions is debated because of indirect land-use effects due to lower yields and the increased manure-related emissions compared to synthetic fertilizers
Recommendations in the Emissions Gap Report 2022
Over the next eight years, the globe must cut greenhouse gas emissions to previously unheard-of levels.
Alternative technologies are required in heavy industry to stop the increase in the carbon intensity of global steel production.
To achieve the significant reductions required to limit GHG emissions by 2030, reform is urgently required.
When compared to present policies, unconditional and conditional NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) are anticipated to cut global emissions by 5% and 10%, respectively, by 2030.
These percentages must reach 30% and 45% in order to be on the most cost-effective route to keeping global warming to 2°C or 1.5°C.
India’s updated NDC
The Emissions Gap Report has elaborated on each country’s NDC revision as well. In August 2022, the Cabinet approved an update of India’s NDC. The updated NDC has led to major policies being pushed forward, including
- electric vehicles (EVs)
- co-firing of biomass pellets in thermal power plants by 7 percent
- ethanol blending in petrol by 20 percent
- inclusion of agroforestry and private forestry
- solarization of agricultural pumps
- clean cooking (by shifting to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)
- rooftop solar PV.
- Energy storage is supported through a production-linked scheme to promote renewable energy.
- In recognition of the role of lifestyles, the movement Lifestyle for Environment has been proposed to foster a citizen-centric approach to combat climate change.
- The Lok Sabha passed the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill on 9 August 2022, aiming to facilitate the establishment and development of domestic carbon markets.
- The markets’ objective is to incentivize actions for emission reduction expected to result in increased investments in clean energy and energy efficiency areas, especially in the private sector.
With respect to food systems, legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils increase the release of ammonium nitrogen into the soil.
- The greater availability of nitrogen in the soil can reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers for other crops when legumes are used in rotations or as cover crops or intercrops.
- India has observed a consistent increase in the production of legumes in the last five years.
- In 2020, some states decided to include pulses in the Public Distribution Package that previously only included wheat and rice to further encourage production.
Rapid reductions in emissions of methane and other short-lived climatic pollutants must be made in addition to CO2 emission reductions in order to lower peak warming, lessen the chance of overshoot, and lessen the need for CO2 removal techniques to limit warming later in this century.
To realize this, a Global Methane Pledge was announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) 26, with the aim to reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 from 2020 levels.
- So far, 122 countries have joined the pledge, covering half of the global methane emissions and nearly two-thirds of the global economy.
- Large methane emitters such as Australia, China, India, Iran, and the Russian Federation have yet to join the pledge, and efforts to track its implementation are still in the process of being established.
Taking more ambitious climate actions by 2030 is urgently needed and is of utmost importance for getting the world on track to meeting the Paris Agreement.
Poverty alleviation remains a prime goal of low-income countries, and agricultural development will remain a key part of their development strategies, with climate actions more focused on adaptation than mitigation.
- An important objective is therefore to ensure that rural transformation is placed on a low emissions trajectory.
The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use reaffirms the critical role of forests “in enabling the world to meet its sustainable development goals” and the need to “reduce, halt, and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”.
The Forest, Agriculture, and Commodity Trade Roadmap aim to halt forest loss associated with agricultural commodity production and trade, joined by 28 countries and 12 companies so far that holds a considerable market share in forest commodities (that is, in soy, palm oil, cocoa, and cattle).
The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People includes nearly 100 countries that push for the ratification of ambitious post-2020 biodiversity targets at the upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity, such as placing 30 percent of the territory under protection by 2030.
-Article written by Swathi Satish