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The unfavourable change

The unfavourable change

As the United Nations released its annual report on climate change, a closer looks at the grim situation serves to remind both states and individuals of what must be done in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Taking innovative steps with a focus on consequences not merely experimental undertakings is the urgent way forward and in that, the world leaders play a most pivotal role. As the world talks incessantly and appears to strive to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit the disastrous impacts of climate change, it is necessary to keep a track of progress made towards globally agreed climate goals. For a decade, United Nations Environment Programme's Emissions Gap Report has compared where greenhouse gas emissions are heading against where they need to be, and highlights the best ways to close the gap. The UNEP's Emissions Gap Report 2019 brings forth the latest data on the expected gap in 2030 for the 1.5°C and 2°C temperature targets of the Paris Agreement. It considers different scenarios, from no new climate policies since 2005 to full implementation of all national commitments under the Paris Agreement. This is the first time the report looks at how large annual cuts would need to be from 2020 to 2030 to stay on track to meeting the Paris goals. Suggesting ways to bridge the emission gap, the report this year looks at the potential of the energy transition, particularly in the power, transport and buildings sectors, along with efficiency in the use of materials such as iron steel and cement. Also termed as the "commitment gap", the emission gap measures the distance between what we need to do and what we are actually doing to tackle climate change. Simply put, this gap is the difference between the low level of emissions that the world needs to drop to in comparison with the projected level of emissions based on countries' current commitments to decarbonisation. The emission gap holds crucial significance as it is important to know it to close it by meeting the emissions reduction target, in the face of increasingly severe climate impacts worldwide. It is thus imperative that policymakers and well- informed and mindful citizens be aware of the gap in terms of the commitments countries are making to ensure a better and safer global climate. Given that the emission Gap report measures and examines the progress countries have made towards the common goal by way of their commitments to emissions reduction, the purpose of this exercise is to ultimately stop climate change. The three key factors that this report measures and projects are the amount of greenhouse gas emissions every year up to 2030; commitments countries are making to reduce their emissions and the impact these commitments are likely to have on overall emission reduction; and the pace at which emissions must be reduced to reach an emission low that would limit temperature increase to 1.5oC, affordably.

Moving into a new decade, the target is now to reduce emissions by 7.6 per cent every year from 2020 to 2030. Meeting this target is necessary to not miss a closing moment in history to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It urgent steps are not taken to curb emissions and prevent warming up of the planet, then temperatures can be expected to rise to 3.2°C above pre-industrial levels—and this, naturally, will have devastating effect. In retrospect, had states been environmentally sensitive a decade ago, governments would have required to cut down emissions by 3.3 per cent each year. Today, the reality is that we are obliged reduce emissions by 7.6 per cent each year. By just 2025 the cut needed will steepen to 15.5 per cent each year. The more reduced emission targets are delayed, greater becomes the burden of targets which will be harder to meet and will impact common live more than ever, in addition to the mounting expenses and difficulties to address the crisis. On a collaborated global level, G20 nations collectively account for 78 per cent of all emissions, but only five G20 members (the European Union and four individual members) have committed to long-term zero emission targets. The top four emitters of the world: China, USA, EU28, and India contribute to over 55 per cent of the total emissions over the last decade, excluding emissions from land-use change such as deforestation. Inclusive of emissions from land-use change, the rankings would alter with Brazil likely to be the largest emitter with the recent spate of burning Amazon rainforests. Given that the largest share of emissions come from the energy and fossil fuel sector and that industry produces the next largest footprint, the switch to renewable energy and means of sustainable development are not only the methods to mitigate the impact, but also to make a necessary shift towards a more climate-friendly order. As far as India, one of the prominent emitters of the world, is concerned, it has born witness to and suffered repeatedly the impacts of climate change with untimely rains and floods, cloud bursts, prolonged droughts, etc, there is ample reason and opportunity to set an example to move towards climate resilience introduce necessary changes in the way a state functions in terms of development and sustainability.

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