Green pandemic recovery essential to close climate action gap: UNEP

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.

Nairobi, Dec 11 (IANS) The UN Environment Program (UNEP) said that a green coronavirus pandemic recovery could cut 25 per cent off predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions and bring the world closer to meeting the two degrees Celsius goal outlined in the 2015 Paris climate deal.

According to UNEP’s 2020 Emissions Gaps Report released in Thursday, despite a dip in carbon dioxide emission this year caused by the pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3 degrees Celsius this century, Xinhua news agency reported.

The report said that around two-thirds of global emissions are today linked to private households hence the need to adopt a green recovery plan to change consumption behaviour by the private sector and individuals.

“The year 2020 is on course to be one of the warmest on record, while wildfires, storms and droughts continue to wreak havoc,” Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP said during the launch of the report.

Anderson however said the report shows that a green pandemic recovery can take a huge slice out of greenhouse gas emissions and help slow climate change.

“I urge governments to back a green recovery in the next stage of Covid-19 fiscal interventions and raise significantly their climate ambitions in 2021,” she added.

The report calls for the wealthy to reduce their carbon footprint in line with the Paris Agreement targets to help achieve the required global temperature.

To further lower carbon consumption, the report calls for replacement of domestic short flights with rail, infrastructure to enable cycling and car-sharing, improving the energy efficiency of housing and policies to reduce food waste.

It calls on governments to invest in climate action as part of pandemic recovery and solidify emerging net zero commitments with strengthened pledges at the next climate meeting that is due in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021.

“The governments are in a position to bring emissions to levels broadly consistent with the two degrees Celsius goal,” the report adds.

It however observes that by combining a green pandemic recovery and new net zero commitments in updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and following up with rapid, stronger action, governments could still attain the more ambitious goal.

The report finds limited action on direct green fiscal recovery measures for zero emission technologies and infrastructure, reducing fossil fuel subsidies, no new coal plants, and promoting nature-based solutions.

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