UNEP’s 14th Emissions Gap Report 2023
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its 14th Emissions Gap Report 2023, revealing a bleak outlook for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With the most optimistic climate action projects, there is only a 14% chance of achieving this target.
Unmet Climate Contributions and Rising Temperatures
Despite efforts to deliver existing nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2030, the UNEP projects a warming of 2.5°C, surpassing the 2°C target set by the Paris Agreement. Current policy scenarios indicate a potential rise of 3°C due to an implementation gap, with only nine countries updating their NDCs since the 2022 climate conference.
Alarming Climate Records and Emission Trends
The report highlights a surge in climate records being shattered, including 86 days with warming exceeding 1.5°C this year. Global emissions peaked at 57.4 gigatonnes in 2022, emphasizing the urgency for enhanced climate action.
GHG Emissions and Fossil Fuel Dependency
Approximately two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions. The report emphasizes the significance of reducing fossil fuel production, as current policies indicate plans to produce double the amount consistent with the 1.5°C target.
Inequalities in Climate Contributions
Stark inequalities exist in contributions to climate change, with a minority of nations, including the United States, the European Union, and China, responsible for a disproportionate share of historical emissions. The report highlights wealth disparities, revealing that affluent households contribute nearly half of worldwide consumption-based emissions.
Mixed Progress in G20 Economies
Policy developments within G20 economies present a mixed picture of progress. While the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act aids in reaching NDC goals, challenges arise in the European Union with increased investments in fossil gas infrastructure.
Low Confidence in Net Zero Targets
Despite 97 parties adopting Net Zero pledges, concerns linger regarding their diversity and implementation. The report reveals low confidence in Net Zero targets among G20 members, citing insufficient progress indicators such as legal status and emission reduction pace.
Urgent Need for Clean Energy Access
Over 2.4 billion people lack clean cooking sources, and 775 million lack electricity. The report emphasizes the urgent need for affordable finance in low- and lower-middle-income countries for clean energy investments, highlighting challenges such as high debt and vulnerability to volatile fossil fuel markets.
Carbon Dioxide Removal Strategies
Recognizing the necessity of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), the report calls for acknowledging the need for CDR strategies. It explores existing and emerging CDR approaches, comparing effectiveness, timescales, and risks. The report emphasizes the growing dependence on CDR if significant global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are delayed.