At the UN climate negotiations in Durban (2011), UNFCCC Parties essentially agreed to negotiate a legally binding framework until 2015, including emissions mitigation obligations for all countries from 2020 onwards. In addition, they agreed to keep global temperature rise below 2 °C and to close the ambition gap before 2020. Hence it is not enough to concentrate on post-2020 action.
In its important “The Emissions Gap Report”, UNEP showed that the current national mitigation pledges in the UNFCCC context are necessary to reduce the gap between business-as-usual emissions and what is needed by 2020 to stay below 2 °C, but will not suffice. Therefore, a “Workplan” on enhancing mitigation ambition to identify options for Parties to close the ambition gap was launched in Durban and procedural steps until the year 2015 concretized in Doha (2012). Short-term mitigation action needs to be enhanced at all levels between now and 2015 in order to ensure that the gap is closed. In September 2014, Heads of State and Government as well as groups of countries are supposed to meet at the envisaged World Leaders’ Summit of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, which provides an important milestone. At that occasion, they should come forward with concrete plans for higher ambition and additional action. These enhanced efforts of states, alliances, as well as other actors should then be formalized under UNFCCC and other international fora.
This paper provides an overview of the variety of options available at all three dimensions (multilateral negotiating, national acting, and alliances between states and/or non-state actors) to close the emissions gap and thus highlights the possibility of complying with the 2 °C limit. Ultimately, whether we can keep global warming at a level that avoids the worst for humanity and our planet depends on political will.
Second Editon, July 2013
(first edition published November 2012)