UN report sets out carbon ‘budget’

A UN report says the world needs to stick to a carbon budget whereby humanity peaks emissions in the next ten years, halves them by 2050 and achieves carbon neutrality by 'mid-to-late century' in order to achieve a 2C world.

Released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Peru, the Emissions Gap Report also examines whether the individual pledges made by countries are sufficient to meet the internationally agreed 2°C target.

It is produced by 38 leading scientists from 22 research groups across 14 countries.

“Countries are giving increasing attention to where they realistically need to be by 2025, 2030 and beyond in order to limit a global temperature rise to below 2°C,” said UNEP executive director Acheim Steiner.

“This fifth Emissions Gap Report underlines that carbon neutrality–and eventually net zero –will be required so that what cumulative emissions are left are safely absorbed by the globe’s natural infrastructure such as forests and soils.”


The UN report highlighted energy efficiency as a key policy pursuit, saying efficiency improvements worldwide could avoid around three gigatonnes of CO2 annually.

“Not only does energy efficiency reduce or avoid greenhouse emissions, but it can also increase productivity and sustainability through the delivery of energy savings, and support social development by increasing employment and energy security,” read the report.

Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute, who collaborated on the report, said: “Negotiating a global climate deal should not be based on emotions or political whims, it should be driven by science and facts. This report provides one of the most clear eyed, technical analyses of global emissions that shows how country commitments and actions measure against science.”

“Unfortunately, the world is not currently headed in the right direction. But, with the growing momentum for global climate action, we have the opportunity to close the emissions gap and keep within the limits of what the science says is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”

Brad Allen

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