Smart Transport

UN sets goals for the EU to go further on climate change

The United Nations has detailed key areas the EU should address as part of its Emissions Gap 2019 report.

The UK, Italy, France and the EU are the only ones from the G20 (the top wealthiest countries in the world) to have already committed to long-term net zero targets. The G2 currently contribute to around 78% of all global emissions.

However, the Emissions Gap 2019 report, has suggested nine key areas (see below) of focus the EU, its cities and local authorities should be prioritising to reduce emissions in addition to measures it has already taken. These included things like shifting further towards increased use of public transport and adopting regulation to refrain from investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure.

The UN’s annual Emissions Gap 2019 report, which compares where greenhouse gas emissions are heading, versus where they need to be, shows that emissions need to fall by 7.6% each year over the next decade, if the world is to get back on track towards the goal of limiting temperature rises to close to 1.5 degrees celsius. 

In 2018, the total reached 55 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent. It said this is putting the Earth on course to experience a temperature rise of 3.2C by the end of this century.

The UN singled out Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the US, as countries that needed to improve their carbon cutting plans.

Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme’s executive director, said: “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions.

“Every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.

“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated”, she added. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.” 

In December 2020, countries are expected to significantly step up their climate commitments at the UN Climate Conference - COP26 - due to be held in Glasgow.

The UNEP chief said that despite the figures, it was possible to avert disaster: "Because of climate procrastination which we have essentially had during these (past) 10 years, we are looking at a 7.6% reduction every year" in emissions. "Is that possible? Absolutely. Will it take political will? Yes. Will we need to have the private sector lean in? Yes. But the science tells us that we can do this.”

Key areas identified from the Emissions Gap 2019 for the EU:

  • Adopt an EU regulation to refrain from investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure, including new natural gas pipelines
  • Define a clear endpoint for the EU emissions trading system (ETS) in the form of a cap that must lead to zero emissions
  • Adjust the framework and policies to enable 100% carbon-free electricity supply by between 2040 and 2050
  • Step up efforts to phase out coal-fired plants
  • Define a strategy for zero-emission industrial processes
  • Reform the EU ETS to more effectively reduce emissions in industrial applications
  • Ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars and buses and/or set targets to move towards 100% of new car and bus sales being zero-carbon vehicles in the coming decades
  • Shift towards increased use of public transport in line with the most ambitious member states
  • Increase the renovation rate for intensive retrofits of existing buildings

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