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G20 needs to accelerate GHG emission cuts to reach 1.5°C target

The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its “Emissions Gap Report”, which presents current and estimated future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and highlights what needs to be implemented to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

According to the report, global GHG emissions increased by an average 1.5%/year over the last decade, stabilising only temporarily between 2014 and 2016, before recovering and reaching a record high of 55.3 GtCO2eq in 2018. CO2 emissions from energy use and industry rose by 2% in 2018 to a record of 37.5 GtCO2. There is no sign of GHG emissions peaking in the next few years, which will require deeper and faster cuts to limit global warning within the Paris agreement limits: a 25% fall in GHG emissions between 2018 and 2030 will be needed to limit the rise in temperature to below 2°C (a 55% fall to remain below 1.5°C). Indeed, the required cuts in GHG emissions are now estimated at 2.7%/year from 2020 to 2030 to reach the 2°C goal and 7.6%/year for the 1.5°C goal.

Since G20 countries account for 78% of global GHG emissions, their carbon policies will have a tremendous impact of global warming. Six G20 members, namely China, the EU28, India, Mexico, Russia and Turkey are expected to meet their unconditional NDC targets with current policies, and 3 of them (India, Russia and Turkey) are projected to be more than 15% lower than their NDC target emission levels. On the contrary, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and the United States will have to strengthen their policies to meet their NDC objectives. The UNEP report estimates that implementing 1.5°C-consistent climate policies will require to raise energy investments to between US$1,600bn and US$3800bn over the 2020-2050 period.

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