UNEP Emissions Gap Report

In mid-2010, the UN Environment ProgrammeEuropean Climate Foundation, and the National Institute of Ecology in Mexico convened 33 scientists from 25 different research groups, including Climate Interactive’s Beth Sawin to begin an assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions pledges in the Copenhagen Accord relative to the goals limiting long-term temperature increase to 2.0°C (3.6°F) or 1.5°C (2.7°F).

The approach taken in the assessment involved:

  • Identifying emissions pathways consistent with the two temperature limits;
  • Compiling the estimates of emissions under the Copenhagen Accord from the nine different research groups (including Climate Interactive) who had made such estimates; and
  • Calculating the gap between between where emissions seem to be heading under the Copenhagen Accord pledges and where they would need to be to achieve the temperature limits of 1.5°C or 2.0°C.

The key conclusions of the study are:

  • There is a gap between where we would like to be and where we are heading;
  • The size of the gap depends on what happens in the negotiations;
  • The options on the table now in the negotiations have the potential to reduce emissions by 7 GtCO2e versus what would have happened otherwise (business-as-usual);
  • This can be achieved by realizing countries’ highest ambitions and ensuring “strict” rules result from the negotiations;
  • It is feasible to bridge the remaining gap through more ambitious domestic actions, some of which could be supported by international climate finance; and
  • With or without a gap, current studies indicate that steep emission reductions are needed post-2020 to meet temperature targets.

You can download a press release about the report, a summary of the report, the full report or a set of power point slides showing the key findings here. The UNEP website contains additional details including a technical summary with additional modeling detail on the modeling approaches used and the country by country pledge analysis.

Another way to learn about the study is to watch this 30-minute recording of a webinar given by Beth Sawin to coincide with the Nov. 23, 2010 release of the report.

You may also be interested in Climate Interactive’s analysis of current pledges, the Climate Scoreboard.

Climate Interactive’s work on this report has been supported by Zennström Philanthropies, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Foundation for Global Communities, the Morgan Family Foundation, and others.