The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published its annual report for 2013 (the UNEP Report), which focuses on UNEP’s achievements in key focus areas such as climate change; disasters and conflicts; ecosystem management; environmental governance; harmful substances and hazardous waste; resource efficiency; and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).
On climate change the UNEP Report highlights, inter alia, the: findings of its ‘Emissions Gap Report 2013′ and the ‘Africa Adaptation Gap Report, namely that:
– The UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2013 demonstrated that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be 8 to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent above the level that would provide a likely chance of remaining on the least-cost path to keeping the world below a 2°C target temperature rise this century;
– The Africa Adaptation Gap Report detailed the corresponding financial burden: adaptation costs for Africa could reach $350 billion per year by 2070 should the 2°C target be significantly exceeded, while the cost would be $150 billion lower
Efforts to tackle climate change:
“If all inefficient lamps worldwide were replaced with energy-efficient devices, global electricity demand would be cut by 5 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions would drop by an estimated 490 million tons of CO2 annually—equivalent to shutting down 250 large coal-fired power plants”
The assessments outlined above may have seemed stark but the hope does reside at the end of the tunnel, provided we achieve a successful transition to a green economy. The UNEP Report highlights the various policy options developed by the agency to help support such a transition. As a UNEP Accredited organization, GFDD is happy to support and report on these options, which include:
– Reducing pollutants: The UNEP-hosted Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) provides an opportunity for quick gains through reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants. Scientific evidence indicates that action to reduce these pollutants, in particular methane and black carbon, could slow down the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5°C and provide health, as well as food and energy security, co-benefits;
– Transition to renewable energy: promoting efficient and renewable energy, in particular its contribution to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL)—the Secretary-General’s initiative to provide, by 2030, universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double renewable energy.
– Building resilience to climate change: UNEP is helping 34 developing countries to implement concrete adaptation projects, and has pioneered ecosystem based adaptation (EbA) options to enhance transformations in climate community resilience and ecosystem functions. For example, in Mozambique a UNEP-backed project restored mangroves and introduced fish and crab farming to build resilience in the Xai-Xai district, an area prone to coastal erosion and flooding.
The initiatives highlighted here demonstrate that international cooperation can be scaled up, and are in many ways the beginning of accelerated efforts to address a major global challenge that cannot be ignored.
To read more about the other achievements by UNEP please download the full report available here.