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The emissions abyss (and the climate action the world can take now)

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While all eyes are focusing on the negotiations for a new climate agreement that will form the basis of the climate regime after 2020, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our actions on climate in the current period up to 2020.

The issue of addressing pre-2020 ambition was placed on the agenda at COP 17 in Durban. But after three years of discussions, sharing ideas and listening to experts, we are yet to see any real concrete actions that can address the low level of ambition in this period.

Today, we’re launching a report, which is a compilation of views from WWF climate specialists around the world on how some key countries could help close the ‘gigatonne gap’ in emissions over the next five years.

The gap we’re witnessing, which is more of an abyss, is caused by low levels of climate commitments from governments in the current period.

At the moment the pre-2020 period does not seem to be on the political radar in most countries, despite the fact that the IPCC science says emissions must peak within this decade to keep average global warming below 2°C to limit dangerous climate change.

With current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario.

For us, science and equity have to be at the heart of any climate agreement. In other words actions need to be based on scientific facts and requirements, but also carried out in a fair and people-focused way.

We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate at a national level.
But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The proposals for closing the emissions gap go a long way in addressing economic and developmental challenges in many countries.

The arguments that action on climate will slow down growth or affect objectives to address poverty no longer hold water. There is enough evidence showing that climate action is good for jobs, health poverty eradication and economic growth. Governments can use this period up to 2020 to begin the just transition to a zero-carbon future.

Those countries that have the responsibility and capacity to do more should lead this transition as well as support others that can do much more if there is financial, technology and capacity building collaboration and support.

We need to see commitments at national level, as well as multilateral commitments – and crucially they need to be turned into concrete actions. Citizens and businesses around the world are ready to do their bit.

Now governments must act.

Climate action is urgent and the planet and its people cannot wait any longer.

We’ve asked 10 WWF colleagues from various countries to analyse and sum up what concrete things their governments could and should be doing now.

From scrapping coal-fi red power stations and increasing renewables to improving energy efficiency, strengthening emissions targets and addressing deforestation, you will see that there are plenty of ways governments around the world can limit their pre-2020 emissions – and urgently close the gigatonne gap.

Read the report here.

Tasneem Essop is the head of low carbon frameworks for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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What can countries like South Africa, Mexico and India do right now to cut their emissions? @climatewwf explains:

Our planet can’t wait for #climateaction that starts in 2020. What countries can do NOW (via @climatewwf):

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