Thursday, November 22, 2012

Emissions drive falls behind

Tom Arup   
The Age, November 22, 2012 

A MASSIVE gap exists between pledges by nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the cuts needed to limit climate change to safe levels, the world's leading environmental agency has warned.

In a report released just days before the next round of international climate talks in Doha, the United Nations Environment Program says countries must rapidly ramp up efforts to cut emissions if global warming is to be kept to two degrees, the scientifically recognised safe level.

The UN's Emissions Gap Report finds annual emissions are already about 14 per cent higher than the 44 billion tonnes that can be emitted in 2020 for the world to have a good chance of hitting the two degree target, and are continuing to rise.

UN environment program executive director, Achim Steiner, said: ''The sobering fact remains that a transition to a low carbon, inclusive green economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting the 44 gigatonne target is narrowing annually.''

Australia has pledged to cut its emissions by 5 to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, depending on the strength of a global treaty on climate change.

The report says even if all countries accept the top end of these target ranges, and adopt tough rules on how emissions are accounted, the world will still be emitting 8 billion tonnes more than it should in 2020.

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