New Report Underlines Potential to Make Significant Greenhouse Gas Emission Cuts

A new report packed with best practice climate policies from across the world reveals a wealth of existing opportunities to immediately scale up reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while powering up ambition to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

“Climate Action Now – A Summary for Policymakers 2015” underlines how nations can deploy a wide range of proven policies and utilize existing initiatives to meet the common challenge of climate change and sustainable development. The report also sits on a new microsite highlighting the potential for greater climate action and ambition before 2020, when the new Paris Agreement comes into effect.

It also highlights both national and international cooperative actions while underling the vital role of non-State actors such as companies, cities, regions and provinces in realizing bigger reductions in current and future emissions.

The report, released by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the request of governments, provides a straightforward, inspiring go-to-reference to assist ministers, advisors and policymakers pursuing climate actions now and over the years and decades to come.

The findings spotlight how effective policies across six key thematic areas not only reduce emissions rapidly but also advance goals in 15 other critical economic, social and environmental areas.

The report underlines that the intended national climate action plans which almost 170 countries have already submitted towards the new climate change agreement in Paris, in December, have an inordinate potential to go further and faster, assisting nations to over-achieve on their pledges.

“Under the UNFCCC, governments have over the past few years led a significant effort during a series of technical expert meetings to identify and scope out the policies that lead to effective climate action – this report is the fruit of that effort,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

“It underlines the myriad of remarkable transitions that are already occurring nationally and internationally in areas ranging from renewable energy to transportation and land use. In doing so it provides governments and their partners with the blueprints and tool-kits to cost-effectively catalyze action now and take the Paris agreement to the next level of long term ambition,” she added.

“The remarkable reality revealed in this report is that the very policies that deal most effectively with climate change also offer a ready-made portfolio of actions that can equally assist the Sustainable Development Goals and achieve everyone’s ultimate aim of a prosperous, stable and environmentally healthy world for all,” said Ms. Figueres.

Barriers to Greater Ambition
The report pinpoints broadly four areas that are holding back taking climate action to scale.

Carbon Pricing – putting an adequate price on carbon will encourage investment in and use of low-carbon technologies and fuels

An estimated 40 national and more than 20 subnational jurisdictions have or are planning to introduce a price on carbon. The report urges more to follow suit.

Inefficient Subsidies – close to $550 billion was spent on direct fossil fuel subsidies in 2013 which in turn works against investments in low carbon fuels and clean energy

The report notes that the G20 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum have all pledged to reduce such subsides with several developing countries like Angola, Egypt, Indonesia and Morocco ‘taking advantage of low oil prices to cut fossil fuel subsidies’.

Finance and Capacity-Building – Developing countries need enhanced support to access technologies and finance up-front costs.

The report notes that additional investment averaging $1 trillion a year will be needed in the energy sector until 2050 ‘in order to stay below the 2 degrees C threshold’.

Institutional, Regulatory and Legal Frameworks – the institutions charged with implementing or overseeing climate action need to be equipped with appropriate resources and mandates says the report

It calls for governments to ramp up the strategies, regulations and laws including the engagement of civil society and private sector actors in order to catalyze further national and non-State actor action.

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