Do more through capacity4dev
Common perception links GHG emissions to the economic growth: economic development must inexorably lead to the increase in GHG emissions. However, this does not have to be the case. It is possible for countries to generate economic growth decoupled from the growth of emissions. Reducing emissions does not have to lead to pain and sacrifice, and to lower economic prospects of countries.
On the contrary, energy efficiency and energy conservation bring net economic benefits, while deployment of renewable energy leads to innovation and development of new technologies. Since climate change is a global problem, mitigation undertaken by all countries, in line with their capabilities and responsibilities, will make adaptation to changing climate less costly for all. There is a significant reservoir of technical and economic measures that could be deployed globally to reduce emissions below current levels.
This task is urgent: systematic scientific observations confirm that the impacts of climate change are accelerating in a dramatic way and the number of devastating climate change related events is increasing. This is correlated with the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which in May 2013 has passed the level of 400 parts per million (ppm).
The science has to determine what constitutes a dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system (Article 2 of the UNFCC Convention). The impacts of global temperature rise will become increasingly severe with time. It is assumed that the global temperature should stay below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. In 2010, the Parties to the UNFCCC agreed that keeping the rise of temperature below this level should be recognised as the long term global goal. In order to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, GHG emissions need to peak and decline thereafter. In order to achieve the 2 °C objective, this should happen by 2020. In order to jointly achieve this goal, countries must reduce emissions, enhance sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases. This can be done through a range of policies, encouraging behavioural changes, creating appropriate incentives and stimulating development of low carbon technologies. The urgency of this collective task is increasing. Parties to the UNFCCC are not on a collective emissions pathway to keep the rise of global temperature below 2°C. At approximately 50 GtCO2e, current global annual emissions are already 14% higher than the median estimate (44 GtCO2e) of the emission levels in 2020 considered as the utmost threshold for meeting the 2°C target. Spurred by the urgency of the task and the challenge ahead, parties to the UNFCCC adopted in December 2015 at COP. 21 in Paris a global agreement on climate change.
The Paris Agreement is the first multilateral agreement on climate change setting out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change. The Agreement recognized that a global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions should happen as soon as possible, with climate neutrality achieved in the second half of this century. It sets out a long term goal of limiting the rise of global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C; The aspirational goal of 1.5°C was agreed to drive greater ambition, and to highlight the concerns of the most vulnerable countries that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. It is a dynamic agreement: starting from 2023, Parties will come together every five years to take a “global stocktake” which will enable them to see what progress in reducing emissions was achieved, what adaptation actions were taken and what kind of support was provided and received by countries in view of the long-term goals of the Agreement. The Agreement sends a clear signal to all stakeholders, not just to governments, that the world is moving in direction of fossil-free future. Countries subscribing to the Agreement are taking legally binding action on national level to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the UNFCCC as a declaration of their domestic mitigation efforts the progress of which will be monitored through enhanced transparency and accountability framework. The Agreement provides also an enhanced support framework to developing countries in order to enable them to implement their NDCs.