Countries on slow path to reducing emissions

2015-10-20 19:59
Tundra is slowly changing as global warming advances.

Tundra is slowly changing as global warming advances.

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Paris/Stockholm - Key countries are on their way to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but the change is not happening fast enough to limit temperature increases, says an analysis released on Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

While a report also released Tuesday by the European Environment Agency (EAA) showed the EU being on track to meet its 2020 emissions target, the OECD said that more needs to be done to meet the post-2020 goals. The EU has set out to reduce emissions 40% by 2030 compared to 1990.

An OECD analysis of 44 countries and the EU, responsible for more than 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, showed that emissions have decreased relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The decrease was due in part to national policies, including cutting subsidies for fossil fuels.

But the cuts are not enough to achieve the temperature cap that has been set out by scientists as crucial to avoid climate change's worst effects. A UN agreement drafted in advance of an upcoming climate summit in Paris also sets a hard temperature increase limit.

"Countries are running out of time to make the policy adjustments needed to meet their targets and keep alive the long-term goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees," OECD environment director Simon Upton said in a statement.

The United States has set out to cut emissions 26-28% by 2025 in comparison to 2005 levels, which is less ambitious than EU targets and also risks not being achieved.

The OECD said the US would have to cut emissions by 2.3-2.8% per year to meet targets it has set out to reach after 2020, compared to its average 2005-12 reduction of 1.6% per year.

Likewise, the EU would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8% per year to meet its goals, compared to 1.8% reductions it made from 2005-12.

EU ahead

Nevertheless, the EU was set to achieve its 2020 target ahead of schedule. Under current measures, the 28-member bloc was on track to reduce emissions by 24% by 2020.

"We have performed better than expected," EU Climate Action Commissioner Arias Canete said in Brussels where the EEA report, Trends and Projections in Europe 2015, was launched.

"Over the same period our economy grew by 46%, proving that climate protection and economic growth can go hand in hand," he added.

In many ways, the OECD report underscored how much still needs to be done on in order to meet the countries' promised emissions reductions, while the EAA report traced how successful policies can make significant progress.

Canete also cautioned that "current contributions" on emission cuts presented by countries that account for 90% of global emissions were not enough to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees or more above pre-industrial levels.

Hans Bruyninckx, head of the Copenhagen-based EEA, said that with the progress to date it made sense to use 2030 as a date for future analysis. He added that the transport sector was the only sector in which emissions increased significantly, rising by 19% between 1990 and 2013, echoing the OECD's assessment.

Greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2007, the OECD said, but remained above 1990 levels in 2012.

Read more on:    oecd  |  eu  |  sweden  |  climate change

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