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article imageReducing greenhouse gas emissions — can we meet our goals?

By Karen Graham     Nov 3, 2016 in Environment
The annual UN Environment Report came out on Thursday, and the news is not good. The report says that greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will exceed what is required to keep global warming to an internationally agreed target.
Countries around the world have been racing to limit greenhouse gas emissions. In the meantime, the Paris Climate Pact enters into legal force on Friday, and from November 7-18, comes the first global meeting to start implementing the pact to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco.
So besides the U.S. presidential election, being held on Tuesday, Nov. 8th, the world is entering into a busy and stressful period of time. But all this flurry of activity cannot cover up what is apparently a mathematical improbability, reports the Washington Post.
The UN Environment Report says that while the Paris Agreement set some very ambitious climate goals — holding the world to "well below" the 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius mark above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century — it's not enough: not nearly enough and not fast enough.
Basically, what this means is our current policies and practices have little chance of working to meet emissions goals. By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions will reach 54-56 billion tons of carbon dioxide, far above the 42 billion tons needed to have a hope of limiting a temperature rise of 2.0 degrees Celsius.
The really bad news is this: even if we succeed in limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 42 billion tons, we still would be on track to see a rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, the report said.
But at a news briefing today, the UN Environment's chief scientist, Jacqueline McGlade told reporters that the emissions gap could "absolutely" be fulfilled. It all comes down to the meeting in Marrakesh.
"If we don't start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy," Mr. Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment, said in a statement, according to the Straits Times.
The report says we can do it, but it is also going to take people in the private sector, cities and regions around the world. We could reduce emissions by several billion tons by 2030 in areas such as agriculture and transport, as well as increased energy efficiency.
More about Climate change, Greenhouse gas emissions, paris agreement, climate pact, emissions cuts
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