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[Insights into Editorial] Widening gap: On UN’s Emissions Gap Report

[Insights into Editorial] Widening gap: On UN’s Emissions Gap Report

UN emission gap report, emission gap report India 


The UN’s Emissions Gap Report comes as a sharp warning to countries preparing to meet in Madrid in December, under the aegis of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Every year of inaction is jeopardising the main goal of the Paris Agreement: to keep the rise in global temperature over pre-industrial times well below 2°C, and ideally at 1.5°C.

Emissions gap represents the difference between current actions to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and what is needed to meet the target.

In quantitative terms, the UN report estimates that there would have to be a 2.7% average annual cut in emissions from 2020 to 2030 for temperature rise to be contained at 2°C, while the more ambitious 1.5° C target would require a 7.6% reduction.


Postponing GHG emission Targets every year by most of the countries:

  • Globally, countries have collectively failed to stop the growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions due to which deeper and faster cuts are now required to avert climate catastrophe.
  • The UN’s Emissions Gap Report highlighted that there is no sign of GHG emissions peaking in the next few years.
  • Every year of postponed peaking means that deeper and faster cuts will be required.
  • By 2030, emissions would need to be 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2018 to put the world on the least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to below 2˚C and 1.5°C respectively.
  • But countries with large emissions, such as the U.S., China, the European Union (EU) nations and India, will face more challenging demands if corrective measures to decarbonise are not implemented now.
  • Climate warnings issued over the years have failed to impress most politicians, but the EU is considering an emergency declaration, and the British Parliament adopted a resolution earlier this year.
  • What the emissions gap findings make clear, however, is that symbolism can do little to mitigate the effects of dangerous climate change. Hundreds of millions of people could face the extreme impacts.
  • In the U.S., the Trump administration has initiated the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, but there is considerable sub-national support for climate action.
  • The EU, where public pressure to act on climate change is high, is working on legislation to bring about net zero emissions.
  • The U.K. responsible for a large share of historical emissions, has turned its net zero 2050 goal into a legal requirement.
  • For these rich nations, the road to lower emissions is mainly through innovation and higher efficiencies in energy use.
  • China and India, on the other hand, have to reconcile growing emissions with development needs.
  • Their best options are a scaling up of investments in renewable energy, leapfrogging to clean technologies in buildings and transport, and greater carbon sequestration.
  • Europe is the first continent to declare climate and environmental emergency and it’s a very strong message, first to European citizens and to the rest of the world, just before COP25.


Are governments doing enough?

No. Today, countries are not doing enough.

  • An increasing number of countries and regions are adopting ambitious goals in line with the transformation needed, but the scale and pace is not sufficient.
  • Most nations are expected to strengthen their climate commitments in 2020.
  • To date, 71 countries and 11 regions, accounting for about 15% of global GHG emissions in total, have long-term objectives to achieve net-zero emissions, differing in scope, timing and the degree to which they are legally binding.
  • This leaves countries representing the remaining 85% of global GHG emissions still to make similar commitments.
  • G20 members account for 78 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Out of the 20 members, six of them which include China, the EU28, India, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey are slated to meet their unconditional NDC targets with current policies.
  • Theirs is the biggest opportunity to lead the world into a thriving, renewable future.
  • However, India, Russia, and Turkey are projected to be more than 15 per cent lower than their NDC target emission levels the report highlighted.
  • If current unconditional NDCs are fully implemented, there is a 66 per cent chance that warming will be limited to 3.2°C by the end of the century.
  • If conditional NDCs are also effectively implemented, warming will likely reduce by about 0.2°C.


United Nations Climate Change Conference 2019:

  • The first major offsetting scheme, the U.N.s clean development mechanism (CDM), was set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in which 190 countries agreed country-by-country emission reduction targets.
  • Carbon offsetting allows a country to help reach its own emissions reduction targets by funding emission reductions in another country.
  • Companies are also increasingly using carbon credits to offset their emissions.
  • Underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
  • Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under commitment period in accordance with Sustainable Development priorities will attract some investments in India as well.


For India, Energy Conservation Code of 2018:

Giving a further fillip to India’s energy conservation efforts, Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018, an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R).

ECO Niwas Samhita 2018 an Energy Conservation Building Code for residential buildings, to push for energy efficiency in residential sector was launched on December 14, 2018.

It aims to promote design and construction of homes including apartments and townships to give benefits of energy efficiency to the occupants. Ministry of Power launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018.

To benefit the occupants and the environment by promoting energy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships.



Climate emergency declarations are, broadly, symbolic motions rather than legally binding legislation.

The UK’s declaration, for example, did not require any chances to the Climate Change Act or the nation’s Paris Agreement contributions.

As the UN report points out, India could do much more.

It needs to provide more consistent support for renewable energy, have a long-term plan to retire coal power plants, enhance ambition on air quality, adopt an economy-wide green industrialisation strategy, and expand mass transport.

In the key area of buildings, the energy conservation code of 2018 needs to be implemented under close scrutiny.

With a clear vision, India could use green technologies to galvanise its faltering economy, create new jobs and become a climate leader.