News / Science & Technology

UN Report: Many Nations Not on Track for Promised Emissions Cuts

Mexico's new climate law promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, which should make a difference in Mexico City, among the most polluted cities in the world.
Mexico's new climate law promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, which should make a difference in Mexico City, among the most polluted cities in the world.
Rosanne Skirble
The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2012, according to figures from the World Meteorological Organization. Emissions from power plants, cars and buildings are the principal drivers of climate change.

Climate talks in Warsaw next week address the task of creating a treaty aimed at reducing those emissions. The agreement, expected by 2015, will replace the Kyoto Protocol that expired last year.

The U.N. Environment Program’s annual Emissions Gap Report, released this week, reviews how each nation is meeting its pledge to reduce the release of greenhouse gases. UNEP Climate Change Coordinator Merlyn van Voore warns the opportunity to control those emissions is slipping away. “The emissions gap is still growing. UNEP believes that it is still possible to close the gap, but it will be tough.”

The scenarios described in the report find that delay will be costly, but the situation will get even costlier if nations continue with business as usual.

Not all large emitters on track to meet pledges

According to the report, five of the largest emitters - China, India, Australia, Russia and the European Union nations - are on track to meet commitments made in international forums. Other major emitters, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, fall short.

Co-author Taryn Fransen, a senior scientist with the World Resources Institute, said that while the news is not great, she is encouraged that some of those nations have recently put policy changes in place. She points to a new climate law in Mexico, an emissions trading scheme in South Korea and the U.S. Climate Action Plan announced by President Barack Obama in June. “[That] identifies a number of measures that if they are fully and ambitiously implemented, it could do a lot to put the U.S. back on track, measures such as regulating emissions from power plants, improving appliance and building energy efficiency increasing renewable energy and so on,” said Fransen.

Warming above 2 degrees Celsius is danger to planet

Fransen said even if the United States and every other nation fulfilled their pledges, however, emissions by the end of the decade still would be 18 to 27 percent above where they need to be to keep global temperature rise less than two degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels.

Climate scientists say breaking the two degree Celsius threshold would put the planet in danger with increased ice sheet melt, sea level rise, forest fires, and extreme weather.

Fransen said that while it is imperative for countries to deliver on pledges and go beyond them, “ultimately delivering on the existing pledges will not be enough and countries must formulate more ambitious solutions.”

Agricultural practices, higher pledges, partnerships curb warming trend

The report recommends nations strengthen emissions pledges, initiate or scale up agricultural practices that mitigate climate change, and engage in private and public programs that promote energy efficiency, fossil fuel subsidy reform and renewable energy.

UNEP’s van Voore said the Emissions Gap Report underscores the urgency to move away from fossil fuels. She says for every dollar invested in renewable energy, five are spent in subsidies for fossil fuels. “And if we can start shifting the economics that underlie that, then perhaps we do see a more positive picture emerging.”
    
The Emissions Gap Report quantifies country pledges. Now, Van Voore says, nations must step up and take action that makes a difference for the planet.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid