13 | 01 | 2021

Will the reduction of CO2 emissions in 2020 help to achieve the Paris Agreement goals?

The eleventh edition of the Emissions Gap Report made by UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) was recently published. This document analyzes the performance of greenhouse gas emissions globally and this year they have seen differences due to the ongoing pandemic. Each year the report analyzes the gap between greenhouse gas emissions forecast for 2030. It takes into account the most recent trends and climate commitments made by governments under the Paris Agreement (the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions – NDC) and the levels of emissions that would be necessary to achieve the climate objectives, keeping the global temperature rise well below 2°C. 

Despite a small decline in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the actual pandemic (7% decrease in 2020), the world is heading towards a global average temperature increase of more than 3°C during this century. Far beyond the parameters set by the Paris Agreement! 

In this analysis, UNEP highlighted also the positive effects that the economic crisis triggered due to COVID-19. 

The emissions that we expect to see in 2030 based on policies in place before COVID-19, could be reduced up to 25% through a proper Green Recovery Plan. This exceeds the savings on emissions that would be achieved with NDCs, bringing the world back on the right path avoiding the raising temperature above the critical threshold of 2°C. 

According to the experts, this can only happen if governments put climate actions at the center of the recovery plans and it is not enough that Nations undertake the commitment to achieve carbon neutrality. They need concrete action plans for the short and middle term. 

The measures explained in the report include direct support for zero-emissions technologies and infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, no new coal plants, raise awareness and promote actions that make the life of every citizen greener, with particular attention to reforestation and the protection of natural environments. 

The growing number of countries committing to net-zero emission by mid-century is the most significant development of the 2020 climate policy. These commitments, to remain feasible and credible, must urgently be translated into actions in the near future and they need to be implemented in the NDCs. 

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