What's Needed Over Next Decade Is 'Unprecedented'

UN Environment Program releases annual Emissions Gap Report
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2019 12:30 PM CST
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – It's called the Emissions Gap Report. NPR reports that "Chasm" might be a more appropriate word. It's the annual assessment put out by the UN Environment Program, and it was issued Tuesday to gloomy headlines. That's because "the summary findings are bleak," the report states. It explains that the emissions gap is "the difference between 'where we are likely to be and where we need to be,'" and what the report found is that "deeper and faster cuts are now required." Highlights:

  • The numbers I: In the last 10 years, greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 1.5% annually. To keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (the goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement), we'll need to instead cut emissions 7.6% a year for the next decade.
  • Put another way: "What we are looking at is really that emissions need to go down by 55% by 2030," says lead author John Christensen, per the AP.
  • Historical precedent: The Guardian reports the only time we've recently seen a drop in any country of that magnitude occurred when the Soviet Union fell. Emissions in the US and Japan did sink 6% during the financial crisis, but the decrease was short-lived. Christensen called the needed cuts "unprecedented." Attaining the less ambitious goal of keeping global warming to 2 degrees Celsius would mean emissions cuts of 2.7% a year over the next decade.

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