Green pandemic recovery could slash 25 per cent of emissions; UNEP

A green pandemic recovery could cut up to 25 per cent of 2030 greenhouse gas emissions and help in achieving the two per cent goal of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, finds the 2020 UNEP Emissions Gap Report.

In the report, the UNEP says that the green pandemic recovery was possible through reducing fossil fuel subsidies, direct support for zero emissions technologies/infrastructure, no new coal plants and promoting nature based solutions.

The UNEP said in the report that the world is still heading for a devastating temperature rise in excess of three degree Celsius despite a dip in 2020 carbon dioxide emissions caused by COVID 19 pandemic. The report points out that COVID-19 pandemic has only brought in short-term reduction in global emissions. The pandemic will not contribute significantly to emissions reductions by 2030 unless the countries look forward for an economic recovery that incorporates strong decarbonisation.

UNEP DTU Partnership, and Head of Strategy for Climate Planning and Policy, Anne Olhoff, along with several other UNEP DTU Partnership experts, are among the report’s main authors.

Noting that 2020 was going to be one of the warmest on record, UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen said that the Emissions Gap report shows that a green pandemic recovery can take a huge slice out of greenhouse gas emissions and help slow climate change. “I urge governments to back a green recovery in the next stage of COVID-19 fiscal interventions and raise significantly their climate ambitions in 2021,” Anderson said.

The report said that total greenhouse gas emissions reached a new record of 59.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019. The report noted that emissions have grown 1.4 per cent per year since 2010 on average, with a more rapid increase of 2.6 per cent in 2019 due to a large increase in forest fires. Anne Olhoff said that lockdowns due to the Covid 19 pandemic were not enough to significantly curb the rate of emissions and bring us closer to closing the gap.

The report also said that America, European Union region and India contributed to 55 per cent of the total GHG emissions without LUC. While Russia, Japan and international transport contributed to 65 per cent, G20 members accounted for 78 per cent.

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