Only ‘green recovery’ can lead to Parisian climate targets

The coronacrisis is leading to a 7% reduction in global CO2 emissions by 2020, but this is not enough to reach the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030. This is one of the key conclusions of the UNs so-called Emissions Gap Report. However, the UN states that a green recovery could lead to a reduction in emissions of 25% by 2030.

Only if remedial measures after the coronacrisis are accompanied by substantial emission reduction plans will the Parisian goals still be achieved. If not, they will quickly become out of the picture, the UN states. The decline this year only leads to 0.01 degrees less temperature rise in the middle of this century, the UN has calculated.

As a result of corona, people work at home, factories produce less, and air traffic is significantly reduced. This leads to fewer greenhouse gases worldwide. But there are big differences, says Michel den Elzen of the Dutch Planning Bureau for the Environment, who worked on the report. โ€œThat 7 percent is an average. In China, for example, there is only a drop of between 1% and 2%. In Europe, emissions fell by 8% and in the US by almost 12%.โ€

Gap remains large

From these figures it can be inferred that the coronacrisis in China was much faster under control than in the EU and the US, says Den Elzen. The 7% drop is a lot when you consider that global emissions without corona would probably have risen again this year, just like previous years. But from the perspective of global warming, it is negligible.

The gap between what was agreed in Paris in 2015 and current and future emissions remains unabated. The promises of all the countries put together are still far from sufficient to achieve those Parisian goals.

The annual Emissions Gap Report always appears right before the global climate summit, which is held at the end of each year. This year the conference would have been in Glasgow, but because of Corona, the summit has been postponed until next autumn. However, there will be an online meeting next Saturday, chaired by British Prime Minister Johnson. That day is also exactly five years since the Paris Climate Agreement was concluded.

It is striking, according to the report, that more and more countries are promising to achieve zero emissions in the middle of this century. This is a โ€œsignificant and encouraging development,โ€ the UN states. At the time the report was adopted, 126 countries had announced that they would reduce their emissions to zero, at some point in the middle of this century. Together, these countries account for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Recently, a number of larger countries have made such a promise, such as China, South Korea, Japan and South Africa. The EU has already done this earlier and is talking at a summit this week about tightening the climate intermediate target by 2030. โ€œBut,โ€ says Michel den Elzen, โ€œimportant is that it is not just fine words and promises. Now governments will have to make real policies and come up with concrete measures.โ€

It was already clear that governments around the world need to increase by a factor of 3 in order to limit global warming to two degrees, and even increase fivefold in order to achieve one and a half degrees.

Aeronautics and Shipping

In Paris, it was agreed in 2015 that global warming should be limited to well below two degrees, preferably close to one and a half degrees. Since then, scientific research has shown that the differences between two and one and a half degrees of warming are much greater than expected in 2015.

The report also deals with aviation and shipping, which together emit about 5% of global emissions. According to the report, they have to deal with energy more efficiently, and have to go through a rapid transition to stop fossil fuels.

Citizens should also be encouraged to use less energy. Especially the rich elites, which emit a relatively large amount, will have to reduce their footprint by a factor of thirty. Only then can they, according to the report, remain in line with Paris.