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The 12 gigatonne emissions gap: a wake up call for governmental pledges ahead of COP21 - 06 November

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A new report from the UN Environment Programme has found that in order for global warming to rise no more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, global emissions should not exceed 48 gigatonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) by 2025 and 42 gigatonnes by 2030. Should this 2°C threshold be breached, scientists widely agree that the effects of climate change will be wide reaching and irreversible.

Alarmingly, current governmental pledges are estimated to lead to emissions of between 53-58 gigatonnes of CO2e in 2025, and between 54-59 gigatonnes in 2030. This leaves a 12 gigatonne gap which needs to be addressed. Should this trend continue, global warming would reach as high as 5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

This gives the upcoming UN COP21 conference increased pertinence to agree on a review mechanism which could regularly appraise emissions targets towards scientific advice as countries’ circumstances change to make up the 12 gigatonne gap and give the world a greater chance of warming no higher than the 2°C threshold.

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