Emissions gap looks set to increase if Government action doesn’t step up: scientists

24th May 2012


Bonn – 24 May 2012- Many Governments do not appear to be implementing policies to meet their 2020 emission reduction pledges, and could increase – not shrink, the gap between real emissions and what’s needed to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 or 2 degC, according to the Climate Action Tracker, a joint project of Climate Analytics, Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. 

CAT’s analysis of current policies, released today, show that, in reality, the ‘gap’ in 2020 could be even larger than discussed in the UNEP Bridging the Emissions Gap Report (2011), as that report assumed that Governments would meet their Copenhagen and Cancun pledges. 

The planet is heading to a temperature rise of at least 3.5 degC, but that could be even more if the 2020 pledges are not met. For a visual analysis of the impacts of such a temperature rise, see our Durban infographic http://climateactiontracker.org/assets/CAT-Infographic-20111211.pdf

“It’s clear that many governments are nowhere near putting in place the policies they have committed to, policies that are not enough to keep temperature rise to below 2degC. We’ve already identified a major emissions gap and the action being taken is highly unlikely to shrink that gap – indeed it seems that the opposite is happening,” said Bill Hare, Director of Climate Analytics.

In a best-case scenario, if governments implemented the most stringent reductions they have proposed, and applied the most stringent accounting, the remaining gap would only shrink to 9 GtCO2e/year. The range estimated in the UNEP report (to which the Climate Action Tracker contributed) for the equivalent case is 3 - 11 GtCO2e/year. 

“Most of the policies we have analyzed are not yet concrete enough to be quantified, not yet implemented and/or not yet sufficiently ambitious to ensure countries achieve their pledge.  This is a worrying trend,” said Dr Niklas Höhne, Director of Energy and Climate Policy at Ecofys.

After seeing the presentations made at the UN climate talks in Bonn late last week, the Climate Action Tracker’s latest update tracks some recent developments: