Bridging the Emissions Gap – The Clock Is Ticking!

Press briefing on the launch of the United Nations Environmental Programme report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap." (Photo by Maya Breitburg-Smith)

A new and timely synthesis report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was formally launched at COP17 today, giving those concerned with our world’s future both new reason for hope and a new mandate for action.  The report regards the gap between existing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the actual reductions that are needed to achieve the UNFCCC’s goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2°Celsius.

The conclusion of the report is that the gap between actual reductions and needed reductions is widening.  In the words of the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, “we are on the wrong trajectory.”  But there is reason for hope.  According to the authors of the study, closing the gap is possible by 2020 “without any significant technical or financial breakthroughs.”

At the press briefing on the launch of the report, Steiner called this synthesis, “the most honest and best possible assessment of where we are at today.”  “A great deal is happening around the world to address climate change,” he said, “but we have no reason to lean back.”  “Science tells us it is imperative and economics tells us it is doable.”

Chris Huhne, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, called this report a recognition that “the clock is ticking.”  “We are not meeting the goals we have set ourselves” he said.

“There is some wiggle room.  But not much.”

Find the UNEP report here.

Aaron Reuben

Aaron Reuben is an editor-at-large and the former editor-in-chief of Sage Magazine. He holds a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where he focused on governance of global marine resources. Aaron is a Get Out the Vote Director for Obama for America in western Pennsylvania. He is co-founder of the Brooklyn-based literary arts journal Armchair/Shotgun.

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