Greater efforts needed to curb global warming – UN report

23 February 2010 – Nations must make more aggressive pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions to avoid global temperatures rising by 2 degrees Celsius and prevent the worst possible effects of climate change, warned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in a report released today.

The study, based on expert estimates from nine leading research centres, suggests that annual greenhouse gas emissions around the world should not exceed 40 to 48.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020 and should peak sometime between 2015 and 2021.

In addition to remaining This needs to be bridged and bridged quickly if the international community is to proactively manage emissions down in a way that makes economic sensewithin that range, the report also states that global emissions need to be cut by between 48 and 72 per cent between 2020 and 2050 to even have a 50/50 chance of meeting the target of keeping global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius.

However, the estimated amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for 2020 ranges between 48.8 to 51.2 gigatons – depending on whether countries fulfill the high or low end of their reduction commitments – which amounts to an average shortfall of 4.7 gigatons, according to the report.

“There are clearly a great deal of assumptions underlying these figures, but they do provide an indication of where countries are and perhaps more importantly where they need to aim,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“There clearly is a ‘gigaton gap’ which may be a significant one according to some of the modelers,” added Mr. Steiner on the eve of the three-day UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Bali, Indonesia, which kicks off on Wednesday.

“This needs to be bridged and bridged quickly if the international community is to proactively manage emissions down in a way that makes economic sense,” he said.

Mr. Steiner underscored the many reasons for making a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient ‘green economy’ with climate change a key factor, but spotlighted energy security, cuts in air pollution and diversifying energy sources as other significant incentives.

This week’s gathering in Bali is expected to “shine a light on opportunities ranging from accelerating clean technology and renewable energy enterprises to the climate, social and economic benefits of investing in terrestrial and marine ecosystem,” said Mr. Steiner.

In a related development, UNEP announced that the next round of formal negotiations, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is slated to take place in Bonn, Germany, from 9 to 11 April.

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