China is among a select group of nations on track to meet their emission-reduction goals by the end of the decade, according to new data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Brazil, the European Union, India and Russia join China as the global players expected to meet projections ahead of 2020, while other leading countries need to implement added measures to curb their emissions projections, the report said.
“Linking development policies with climate mitigation will help countries build the energy-efficient, low-carbon infrastructures of the future and achieve transformational changes,” Achim Steiner, UNEP’s executive director, said in a statement Wednesday that accompanied the release of the report.
Emissions Gap Report 2014 estimates that emissions need to drop 15 percent or more by 2030 in order to stay in line with the 2 degrees Celsius limit established in 2010 by the UN Climate Change Conference in Mexico. UNEP defines an emission gap as the difference between the projected emission levels in 2025 and 2030.
As part of its efforts to curb carbon emissions, China has started pilot emission-trading programs in seven provinces and municipalities, as well as drafting a comprehensive climate-change law. An emission-trading program is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.
The high end of the UNEP estimate says that by 2020, China could reduce greenhouse-gas emission intensity, or its average emission rate based on production volumes, by up to 40 percent.
The UNEP report shows that a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia, are “likely to require further action and/or purchased offsets to meet their pledges”.
Since 1990, global greenhouse-gas emissions have grown by more than 45 percent, based on data from the UNEP.
UNEP findings state that the global emission guardrails that would provide a chance of staying within the limit include, “a peaking of emissions within the next ten years, a halving of all greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century; and in the second half of the century, carbon neutrality followed by net zero total greenhouse gas emissions.”
Steiner, who also serves as the UN’s undersecretary general, said early action on climate-change initiatives could ease pressure on the current goals for greenhouse-gas emission.
“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 degrees Celsius,” Steiner said.
Eventual net zero climate neutrality would be the ultimate goal of these energy initiatives, he said. Net zero emission scenarios imply no input from human activity, where any remaining CO2 emissions would be negated by carbon dioxide uptake, or “negative emissions”.
The UNEP forecast, released just a few weeks ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru (Dec 1-12), calls for global carbon neutrality to be reached between 2055 and 2070.
Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute (WRI), said in a press release Wednesday: “Negotiating a global climate deal should not be based on emotions or political whims; it should be driven by science and facts. 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 [it] within the limits of what science says is needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.”
China intends to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030 and will make its best efforts to do so early, according to a joint announcement made by China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama in Beijing on Nov 12.
Obama also announced a new target to cut US greenhouse-gas emissions between 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, a step forward from its previous pledge of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
The pact marks the first time that China has set a time frame to cap its emissions. The world’s second-largest economy also committed to increasing its share of non-fossil fuel energy to about 20 percent by 2030.
Total carbon content and production of coal mines. The inset shows the comparison between carbon content from 602 coal samples and 4,243 coal mines Each dot in the inset indicates the average of carbon content from 602 coal samples and 4,243 coal mines in the same 1°by 1° grid. The nearly one-to-one correlation indicates that samples and mines capture the same spatial variability of coal carbon content across China.
Source: Reduced carbon emission estimates from fossil fuel combustion and cement production in China. Nature, 524, 335-338
Source:China Daily, Xinhua News Agency