CAN Submission: For ADP Chairs on Workstream 2: Pre-­2020 Ambition, March 2013

At successive UNFCCC meetings, Parties have acknowledged the existence of a multi-gigatonnes gap between the current level of ambition to mitigate emissions until 2020 (expressed in QELROs, pledges, targets and NAMAs) for the period until 2020 and what is required in that period to allow the world to stay below the critical 1.5/2°C threshold. According to the Climate Action Tracker, current pre-2020 ambition (expressed by countries in QELROs, pledges and NAMAs) puts the world onto a path of 2.7-4.2°C warming. There is a consensus within the scientific community that we are fast approaching a devastating tipping point. In this context it is alarming that governments have not taken any steps yet to close the gap but allow it to grow. According to UNEP, the estimated emissions gap in 2020 for a “likely” chance of being on track to stay below the 2°C target is 8 to 13 GtCO2e, while it was 6 to 11 GtCO2e in the 2011 report. Global emissions are currently 14 per cent above where they should be to have a likely chance to limit global warming to no more than 2°C.

Some Parties seem to hope to get away with misinterpreting “enhancing ambition” to mean to continue to mitigate after 2020, and to leave the current pre-2020 ambition gap untouched – at least as far as own action is concerned. This is a highly irresponsible assumption. Raising the ambition level of action before 2020 is a prerequisite to stay below the 1.5/2°C threshold.  
With sufficient political will, that is lacking for instance in the US, China, EU, Canada, Japan, Australia and Russia, emissions can be brought to a level by 2020 consistent with staying below the critical 1.5/2°C threshold. UNEP's “Bridging the Emissions Gap 2012” report asserts that this is possible and economically feasible, using existing, mature technologies. In fact it should be common knowledge by now that if nothing more is done to increase the current unconditional pledges, costs would be much higher to reach deeper reductions in later years and/or the adaptation needs would be far greater.