Mastodon UN Emissions Gap report says 7.6% emissions reduction per year required to meet 1.5C Climate Target, Australia marked as a climate laggard | Climate Citizen Mastodon

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

UN Emissions Gap report says 7.6% emissions reduction per year required to meet 1.5C Climate Target, Australia marked as a climate laggard

Global greenhouse gas emissions need to fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030 or the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, warns the latest UN Environment Emissions Gap report. It is clear we have a global climate emergency.

If current committed actions are all undertaken, the world is on target to heat at least 3.2C degrees by 2100 warns the report.

G20 nations account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but 15 G20 members, including Australia, have not committed to a timeline for net-zero emissions.

At the moment Australian total emissions are currently rising, and projected to keep rising past 2030. This is unsustainable. Australia proposes to keep current low targets and no substantial ambition coming into the UN climate conference COP25 in Madrid this December. Indeed, the Australian Government want to negotiate a 'deal' to use an accounting trick to halve our already low 2030 Paris Agreement Target, by arguing Kyoto Protocol credits can be used to meet Paris Agreemnet targets. No other country is proposing similar use of these credits. They are two spearate agreements.

The Australian Government is sending Energy and Emissions reduction Minister Angus Taylor to attempt to bluster a deal for Australia. His overtures are likely to be rebuffed by the global community, especially given the UN Environment emissions Gap report which advises ALL countries need to be reducing emissions, but especially the industrialised nations like Australia.

A new survey reveals that the most important issue facing Australia is climate change with a huge spike in concern (See The Conversation article).

Under the Paris Agreement nations need to review and submit by 2020 updated National Determined Contribution (NDC) plans with more ambitioned, which will be reviewed at COP26 in Glasgow in Scotland.

"For ten years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm – and for ten years, the world has only increased its emissions,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution.”

We have had scientific warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with three special reports in the last 12 months warning us of the climate impacts of going beyond 1.5C global average temperature.

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.”

“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” she added. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”

The report clearly says that solutions are available to make meeting the Paris goals possible, but they are not being deployed fast enough or at a sufficiently large scale.

The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions have risen 1.5 per cent per year over the last decade. Emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.

To limit temperatures to the 2°C goal:

  • annual emissions in 2030 need to be 15 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent lower than current unconditional NDCs imply

For the 1.5°C temperature goal:

  • annual emissions in 2030 need to be 32 gigatonnes lower

This means cuts in emissions of 7.6 per cent per year, every year, from 2020 to 2030 to meet the 1.5°C goal and 2.7 per cent per year for the 2°C goal.

This requires the levels of ambition in the NDCs must increase at least fivefold for the 1.5°C goal and threefold for the 2°C.

Fossil CO2 emissions just from energy use and industry, which dominate total GHG emissions, grew 2.0 per cent in 2018, reaching a record 37.5 GtCO2 per year.

Figure ES.1. Average annual growth rates of key drivers of global CO2 emissions (left of dotted line) and components of Figure 2.2 — Average annual growth rates of key drivers of CO2 emissions (left of dotted line) and components of greenhouse gas emissions (right of dotted line) for OECD and non-OECD members

The report specifically notes:

Australia is carrying forward their overachievement from the Kyoto period to meet their 2020 Cancun Pledge and counts cumulative emissions between 2013 and 2020. With this method, the Australian Government projects that the country will overachieve its 2020 pledge. However, if this ‘carry- forward’ approach is not taken, Australia will not achieve its 2020 pledge.

The report notes:

  • of the G20 economies achieving their NDC targets, six members (China, the EU28, India, Mexico, Russia and Turkey) are projected to meet their unconditional NDC targets with current policies. Among them, three countries (India, Russia and Turkey) are projected to be more than 15 per cent lower than their NDC target emission levels. In contrast, seven G20 members require further action of varying degree to achieve their NDC: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the United States of America.
  • An increasing number of countries have set net zero emission targets domestically and 65 countries and major subnational economies, such as the region of California and major cities worldwide, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050. However, only a few long-term strategies submitted to the UNFCCC have so far committed to a timeline for net zero emissions, none of which are from a G20 member. While Australia has not set a national zero emissions reduction target, all states have set a 2050 target (The Act target is sooner)
  • increasing ambition by 2020 is critical. Given the time lag between policy decisions and associated emission reductions, waiting until 2025 to strengthen NDCs will be too late to close the large 2030 emissions gap.
  • In 2009, the G20 members adopted a decision to gradually phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, though no country has committed to fully phasing these out by a speci c year as yet. Australia is currently contributing over $12 billion per year of tax based subsidies to fossil fuels

  • Although many countries, including most G20 members, have committed to net zero deforestation targets in the last few decades, these commitments are often not supported by action on the ground. For example, Clearing of native vegetation in NSW jumps 800% in three years as reported in August 2018

  • Rapid expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency is key for allowing:
    • Expanding Renewable Energy for electrification.
    • Phasing out coal for rapid decarbonization of the energy system.
    • Decarbonizing transport with a focus on electric mobility.
    • Decarbonizing energy-intensive industry.
    • Avoiding future emissions while improving energy access.

This is the global emissions Gap and scenarios:

Table ES.1. Global total GHG emissions by 2030 under different scenarios (median and 10th to 90th percentile range), temperature implications and the resulting emissions gap

Australia is a climate laggard with 3 of 4 studies projecting that Australia will not meet current NDC emissions reduction target between 0-15 per cent.:

Table 2.1. Assessment of progress towards achieving the unconditional NDC targets for the G20 under current policies based on independent studies

Based on 2017 data Australia is currently assesed as 1.2 per cent Share in global GHG emissions, excluding LULUCF.

Under current policy scenario, Projected per capita GHG emissions including LULUCF in 2030 (tCO2e/cap) Australia is at 17.5 per cent with a -34 per cent change rates from 2010 levels. Achieving our unconditional NDC commitments would put as at per capita emissions of 15.1, or a -43 per cent reduction from 2010 levels. This still puts us at the back of the pack of G20 countries, with only Saudi Arabia and Russia having higher per capita emissions.

The full summary assessment for Australia in the report:


Unconditional NDC target projection: Emissions 0–15 per cent above target.

With the re-election of Australia’s conservative Government in May, there has been no recent material change in Australian climate policy. This will make achieving its NDC of a 26 per cent to 28 per cent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030 challenging. However, it appears that the Australian Government intends to use carry-over permits from the Kyoto Protocol to do so, and uses a carbon budget approach that accounts for cumulative emissions between 2021 and 2030 in order to assess progress against its NDC (Australia, Department of the Environment and Energy 2018).

The dropping of the proposed National Energy Guarantee in 2018 and that the renewable energy target will not be raised for years after 2020 up to 2030 (Clean Energy Regulator 2018) leaves Australia with no major policy tool to encourage emission reductions from the electricity sector in the short to medium term. There has been a 1.4 billion Australian dollar commitment to a 2 GW expansion of the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project; however, the emission reductions stemming from this project are not expected to occur until well after 2030 (Marsden Jacob Associates 2018). In 2017, the Government’s advisory body, the Climate Change Authority, concluded that other policies would be needed to deliver the structural changes necessary for Australia to decarbonize (Climate Change Authority 2017).

The latest projection published by the Government shows that emissions would remain largely unchanged up to 2030 (Australia, Department of the Environment and Energy 2018; Climate Action Tracker, 2019a). To date, much of the support from the Government’s signature climate policy, the recently renamed “Climate Solutions Fund”, has gone to LUC projects (Clean Energy Regulator 2017). The current Government decided earlier in 2019 to provide an additional 2 billion Australian dollars to the Climate Solutions Fund. The Australian Government estimates that these measures will contribute to an additional 100 MtCO2e of emissions reductions by 2030 (Australia, Department of the Environment and Energy 2019).

Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson's view:

Carbon Brief analysis shows achieving 1.5C target slipping out of reach:

The UN Secretary Genral tweet for the UN Environment Emissions Gap report:

Emissions just keep frising, and even the UN Secretary General highlights we have a Climate Emergency:

Just remember Australia ranks 3rd globally for fossil fuel production (including for export) We are no minnow, but a large part of the problem, with current Government policies pursuing an expansion of coal and gas production, exactly when we need to be phasing out both.

Meanwhile in Australia, new fires were started by lightning strike: 124 fires burning in NSW. Bushfires burning more intensely due to climate change, and government inaction on emissions reduction and climate policy:

Just to press home that no country is doing enough, but Australia is one of the climate laggard countries in this tweet from The Australia Institute Climate and Energy director, Richie Merzian from a few days ago:


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