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The UN’s Environment Programme has released a report showing that global attempts to curb emissions of CO2 have fallen well short of targets designed to stop climate change. The report says that greenhouse gases are currently 14% above where they need to be in 2020 for temperature rises this century to remain below 2C. While the report adds that this target is still achievable, the authors note that unless governments take major action soon, the effects may be irreversible.

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The Emissions Gap Report 2012 was compiled by over 55 scientists from 20 countries who all agree that without rapid global action, the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions will be the equivalent of 58 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2020. Unfortunately, this is around 14 gigatonnes above the level that scientists believe will be needed to keep temperature increases below the targeted level of 2C.

Speaking to BBC News, Dr Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “Eight is a big number, that’s about the total greenhouse gas emissions of the entire industrial sector in the whole world right now.”

The UNEP report also noted that the increase in the levels of emissions in this year’s report was due to projected economic growth in some developing countries. However it is believed that the removal of some emissions cuts had been counted twice.

“The report provides a sobering assessment of the gulf between ambition and reality,” says Achim Steiner, the executive director of Unep. Lead author Dr Monica Araya concured saying that was crucial that action be taken.

“If we want politicians to endorse these policies they have to be able to go out there and sell them on the basis of the benefits they create for their people and not just for the planet.”

+ United Nations Environmental Programme

via BBC News

Images: HJSP82 and Alex E. Proimos