Emissions in India, 6 other nations top pre-Covid levels

Ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, scheduled to take place in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh next month, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said on Thursday that the world is falling short of the goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement adopted in 2015, and that no credible pathway is currently in place to restrict global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNEP report released on Thursday, titled ‘Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window — Climate Crisis Calls For Rapid Transformation of Societies’, has found that in India and six other top emitters, emissions have rebounded and increased after the pandemic.

“The top seven emitters (China, the EU27, India, Indonesia, Brazil, the Russian Federation and the United States of America) plus international transport accounted for 55 per cent of global GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in 2020. Collectively, G20 members are responsible for 75 per cent of global GHG emissions,” said the report.

The global average per capita GHG emissions was 6.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) in 2020. The US remains far above this level at 14 tCO2e, followed by Russia at 13 tCO2e, China at 9.7 tCO2e, Brazil and Indonesia at about 7.5 tCO2e, and the European Union at 7.2 tCO2e.

India remains far below the world average at 2.4 tCO2e.

“For most major emitters, including China, India, the Russian Federation, Brazil and Indonesia, GHG emissions (excluding land use and forestry sectors) rebounded in 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic 2019 levels,” the report said.

UNEP said that the G20 countries have just started to work on meeting their new targets, and collectively, are expected to fall short of their promises for 2030.

“Policies currently in place, without further strengthening, suggest a 2.8°C hike… To get on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal, the world needs to reduce greenhouse gases by unprecedented levels over the next eight years,” the UNEP said.


On course to breach 2°C limit

The Paris Agreement defined 2°C above pre-industrial levels as the global warming limit, which if breached, can lead to extreme weather events such as extreme heat waves, droughts, water stress and others that can significantly impact lives. The UNEP report says that unless unprecedented action is taken, global warming is on course to breach this mark.

Unconditional and conditional NDCs are estimated to reduce global emissions in 2030 by five and 10 per cent respectively, compared with emissions based on policies currently in place. To get on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C or 1.5°C, these percentages must reach 30 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Emissions must continue to decline rapidly after 2030 to avoid exhausting the remaining atmospheric carbon budget.

Reacting to the UNEP report, Ulka Kelkar, director of the Climate Programme at research organisation WRI India, said, “UNEP’s emissions gap unfortunately also points out the lack of credible roadmaps that can take countries from actions planned for this decade to the actions needed by mid-century. A major barrier is the lack of finance which needs to increase 10-fold. Another crucial need is alternative technologies in heavy industry, to reverse the rise in carbon intensity of global steel production.”

Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, said: “It is encouraging to note that India continues sustained momentum on its renewables uptake and is emerging on PV technology. However, it will need to double down on non-fossil power to meet its targets.”

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