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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora