UNEP leads coalition to encourage emission reduction

A coalition coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been launched in an effort to dramatically decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year by measuring and reporting reductions.

The 1 Gigaton Coalition is a voluntary international framework, open to developed and developing countries as well as intergovernmental organisations, the private sector and civil society.

The Coalition believes that CO2 emission savings could amount to as many as one gigatonne per year by 2020. Measuring such reductions will prove that energy efficiency measures work and encourage the uptake of policies and new renewable energy technologies.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said: “Energy efficiency and renewable energy, while growing in use and prominence, are still in many ways an untapped goldmine that can greatly reduce the threat of severe climate change, save money and help meet The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative’s goal of giving everyone on this planet access to clean and modern forms of energy.

“For example, the International Energy Agency this year reported that our global economy could be $18trn better off by 2035 if we adopted energy efficiency as a first choice, while various estimates put the potential from energy efficient improvements anywhere between 2.5 and 6.8 gigatonnes of carbon per year by 2030.”

Although many countries have a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and initiatives in place, most don’t measure or report the reductions in GHG emissions that result.

Crucial role

Steiner added: “To build the momentum and support required to achieve such savings, the climate and economic benefits of existing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects should be more widely recognised, instead of passing under the radar as they often do now.

“The 1 Gigaton Coalition will play a crucial role in making these contributions visible by measuring emissions reductions and reporting successes, thus building the case for scaling up of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

“Current and planned energy efficiency policies harness merely a third of the economically viable energy efficiency potential.

“By scaling up technical assistance, mutual support and collaboration, and putting in place policies that integrate development and climate mitigation, this potential can be fully realised.”

In November, UNEP published its Emissions Gap Report 2014, stating that the world must stick to a carbon budget whereby humanity peaks emissions in the next 10 years, halves them by 2050 and achieves carbon neutrality by ‘mid-to-late century’ in order to achieve a 2C world.

However, the world is not currently on track to meet this goal. UNEP’s report revealed that the gap between emissions levels consistent with meeting the target and levels expected if country pledges are met is likely to be 17 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2030.

UNEP will coordinate the collection of data by the 1 Gigaton Coalition, produce an annual report, and together with partners will develop a Measurement, Reporting and Verification methodology aligned with the requirements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UNFCCC executive secretary of the Cristina Figueres said: “We have seen a groundswell of climate action building, including at this year’s UN Climate Summit in New York, which featured many new climate action announcements related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The coalition announced today lends credible confidence to governments as they prepare to submit their contributions to the 2015 Paris agreement and design a crucial, long-term response to the challenge of climate change.”

Lois Vallely

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