The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently published its annual emissions gap report: Emission Gap Report 2023: Broken Record (the Report). The Report provides an assessment of the gap between pledged and actual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and the reductions required to align with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement and is published annually in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference. COP 28, set to start Thursday in Dubai, will mark the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which is very likely to acknowledge that current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are insufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The UNEP Report highlights the need for immediate implementation of solutions to the emissions problem. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement represents a viable mechanism to channel capital at the levels required in the time available. The Public Policy Forum, together with Resilient LLP and the International Emissions Trading Association, released a report last week titled The Missing Article: How to get Canada back in the game on Article 6.
This bulletin briefly summarizes the key findings of the Report.
The emissions gap in 2030 remains high. The Report indicates that current unconditional NDCs result in a 14 GtCO2e gap for a 2°C goal and a 22 GtCO2e gap for the 1.5°C goal. Full implementation of unconditional and conditional NDCs would reduce these estimates by 3 GtCO2e.
Source: UNEP, Emissions Gap Report 2023, Figure 4.2
Likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5°C remains low. The Report found that there is only a 14% likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5°C and that current policies are likely to see temperature rise by 3°C compared to pre-industrial levels. However, implementing all unconditional and conditional pledges by 2030 would limit temperature increases to 2.5°C or 2°C if all net-zero pledges are met. In addition, warming is expected to increase further after 2100 as CO2 emissions are not yet projected to reach net zero. UNEP states that all countries must urgently accelerate economy-wide emission reductions and low-carbon transformations to achieve the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
Global GHG emissions set new record. Global GHG emissions increased by 1.2 per cent in 2022 to reach a new record of 57.4 GtCO2e. The Report noted that emissions have increased in all sectors except for transport and have fully rebounded from the drop in emissions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes were the main contributors to the overall increase, accounting for about two-thirds of current GHG emissions.
Global energy consumption expanded in 2022. Global primary energy consumption expanded in 2022 and was met with growth in coal, oil, and renewable electricity supply, with a slight 3% decrease in natural gas consumption as a result of the war in Ukraine. Of note, electricity demand growth in 2022 was primarily met by renewable sources (excluding hydropower), including record increases in solar capacity.
Negligible movement on NDCs since COP 27. There has been limited movement on NDCs since COP 27 but there has been some progress in NDCs and policies since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. The Report notes that NDCs increasingly contain GHG reduction targets that are economy-wide targets, instead of applying only to certain sectors. To date, nine countries have submitted new or updated NDCs since COP 27, bringing the total number of NDCs that have been updated since the initial NDCs were submitted in advance of or following the Paris Agreement to 149. However, the global implementation gap for 2030 is still approximately 1.5 GtCO2e for unconditional NDCs and 5 GtCO2e for conditional NDCs.
Net zero pledges continue to increase. The Report found that 37% of global GHG emissions are now covered by net zero pledges with targets in 2050 or earlier, while 44% of global emissions are covered by net zero pledges with targets after 2050. There continues to be an increasing number of net zero pledges made by countries; however, the Report noted that confidence in their implementation remains low. For example, none of the G20 countries are currently reducing emissions consistent with meeting their net zero targets.
Further delay will increase future reliance on carbon dioxide removal (CDR). All least-cost pathways starting in 2020 consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals require immediate and deep emission cuts as well as increasing reliance on CDR over time. In addition, the Report noted that any delay in stringent mitigation action will further increase the need for CDR in the longer term.
Figure: The role of emissions reductions and CDR in least-cost pathways
Source: UNEP Source: UNEP, Emissions Gap Report 2023, Figure 7.2