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2013 Gap Report Strengthens Case for Global Action to Close Emissions Gap


Adding up the emission reductions from the tightening of rules, implementing ambitious pledges, and expanding the scope of the current pledges could bring the global community about halfway to closing the gap. The report says that the remaining gap could be bridged by further international and national action, including through “international cooperative initiatives”.

International Cooperation could bring Huge Gains

There are an increasing number of international cooperative initiatives, through which countries and other bodies cooperate to promote technologies or policies that have climate benefits, even though climate change mitigation may not be the primary goal of the initiative.

The report identified several areas ripe for such initiatives, with many partnerships already in place that can be expanded and replicated to bring the needed gains:

  • Energy efficiency, which could cut the gap by up to 2 GtCO2e by 2020. For example, electricity for lighting accounts for approximately 15 per cent of global power consumption and five per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. More than 50 countries have joined the en.lighten Global Efficient Lighting Partnership Programme and agreed to phase out inefficient incandescent lamps by the end of 2016;
  • Renewable energy initiatives could cut 1 to 3 GtCO2e from emissions by 2020. A total of $244 billion was invested in renewable energy in 2012 and 115 GW of new renewables were installed worldwide – a record year according to REN21’s Renewables 2013 Global Status Report. Over the last eight years, the number of countries with clean energy targets has tripled from 48 to 140, indicating that the shift to renewables is gaining pace;
  • Fossil fuel subsidy reform, which could bring benefits of 0.4 to 2 GtCO2e by 2020;

However, in order for international cooperative initiatives to be effective, the report finds that they must have:

  • A clearly defined vision and mandate;
  • The right mix of participants appropriate for that mandate, going beyond traditional climate negotiators;
  • Stronger participation from developing country actors;
  • Sufficient funding and an institutional structure that supports implementation and follow-up, but maintains flexibility;
  • Incentives for participants;
  • Transparency and accountability mechanisms.

Agriculture Offers Opportunities

This year’s report pays particular attention to the agriculture sector as, although few countries have specified action in this area as part of implementing their pledges, estimates of emission reduction potentials for the sector range from 1.1 GtCO2e to 4.3 GtCO2e.

The report outlines a range of measures that not only contribute to climate change mitigation, but enhance the sector’s environmental sustainability and could provide other benefits such as higher yields, lower fertilizer costs or extra profits from wood supply.

As examples, three key practices that should be scaled-up more widely are highlighted:

  • No-tillage practices. No-tillage refers to the elimination of ploughing by direct seeding under the mulch layer of the previous season’s crop. This reduces emissions from soil disturbance and use of farm machinery.
  • Improved nutrient and water management in rice production. This includes innovative cropping practices that reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Agroforestry. This consists of different management practices that deliberately include woody perennials on farms and the landscape, and which increase the uptake and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in biomass and soils.

The report, which involved 70 scientists from 44 scientific groups in 17 countries, was funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.


Check the following link to read/download the Full Report:


Source: UNEP.