UN Environment 2018 Emissions Gap Report Looks at How Effective Countries are at Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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The UN Environment 2018 Emissions Gap Report has calculated the lengths countries who have pledged to reduce their emissions must go in order for their efforts to be effective, in the face of increasing environmental effects of climate change. These “nationally determined contributions,” or NDCs, have been taken into account as scientists have modeled possible scenarios.

Starting at the “baseline scenario,” or what would happen to worldwide emissions with no pledges, the “current policy scenario” takes into account the added pledges that countries have offered, with no extra efforts being taken. Under the conditional NDC scenario, it is assumed that countries reach their goal pledges, including those with conditions. In order to prevent the warming of the planet by two degrees Celsius by 2100, greenhouse gas emissions must meet their peak at 2020 and decline starkly after. However, there are no signs that current emissions will be peaking anytime soon.

Despite this, the UN believes that it is still possible to prevent dangerous levels of warming, but only if all countries are willing to play an active role in decreasing their emissions, stating that it’s entirely possible for countries to maintain their economic growth while doing so. Currently, the largest amount of emissions are from the United States and China, with India and Europe following suit. But a number of countries have reached their peak emissions – Germany and Norway, for example, reached their peak emissions prior to 1990. There are several other economies listed in Anex I of the Paris agreement that fully expect to reach their peak in emissions by the goal year of 2020.

But at the pledges most countries are keeping currently, global emissions will still continue to rise, further extending the planet’s wait for global emissions to peak. The United States and the European Union are responsible for one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, with China accounting for 27 percent. However, China specifically has signs that they are reaching a peak in emissions.

View the entirety of the report here.

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