2011-11-29 13:27:30Bridging the Emissions Gap: A UNEP Synthesis Report
George Morrison

I have a mostly completed blog post briefly summarizing the release of the United Nations Environmental Programme's "Bridging the Emissions Gap: A UNEP Synthesis Report".

I had originally intended to contrast and compare the emission pathways of the UNEP report and those of the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook earlier this month. Both start with the same objective from the Copenhagen Accord to stay within a globally averaged 2C temperature rise.

However, that is proving to be a longer job than I had hoped, largely because of the differences in methodologies the two groups are using. I begin to describe these in the latter part of the post (CO2e vs. CO2; just fossil fuel combustion emissions vs. total emissions, etc.) (The IEA itself has several pages in a separate report discussing "Differences between IEA estimates and UNFCCC submissions" which suggests at some other potential differences.)

Nevertheless, one can start to understand the large differences by the just the following: The UNEP report calls for a reduction of CO2e emissions from 2010 to 2020 of ~ 8.5%; whereas the IEA plots an increase of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion of ~ 10%. It is extremely hard to reconcile those two pathways.

Curiously, the UNEP report is fairly optimistic about the chances of achieving their aggressive target, whereas the tone of the IEA seems more pessimistic about achieving their considerably more relaxed objective.

Anyway, I think I still will plug away at that comparison, but I already realized that the blog post as it stood is probably long enough. And I am not sure how long the comparison will take.

  • So I am looking for some feedback. Including:
  • Is the blog post as it stands (with some appropriate alternative finishing, etc.) sufficient to stand on its own? Do I leave the beginning of the IEA-UNEP comparison discussion there and suggest that there will be a follow-up?
  • If it is to be a stand-alone post, should I get more specific on the quantities discussed in their report?
  • The two graphics, I realize, are somewhat blurry. That˙'s because the only way I could capture them from the pdf was to screen capture, then crop them and resize them. Oddly, UNEP says we are free to use excerpts and graphics from their report (as long as we attribute (I will do this), and they also ask a courtesy notification if their work is being cited), but the pdf itself appears to be read-only. Any suggestions for better graphics? If I scanned them, would the quality be better?
  • General formatting, language, spelling, content, everything.


2011-11-29 15:49:42
Dana Nuccitelli

Your links got messed up - here's the post.  I fixed up some of the formatting.

It looks good so far.  If you've got the annual or 5-year emissions data from the UNEP report, we can graphically compare it to the IEA emissions scenarios, for which I have the data.

It would be good to give some more details about exacly how the UNEP proposes to cut emissions, because a reduction in emissions before 2020 is extremely optimistic, as you note.

2011-12-09 15:30:49
George Morrison


I didn't proceed with this post because I thought that the more interesting thing was the apparently gaping discrepancy between the IEA report and the UNEP report. As opposed to simply a review of the UNEP report. But as I began to hint in my post, documenting that discrepancy is a bit of a dog's breakfast.

I now see that Climate Action Tracker/PIK/Ecofys have a discussion paper out in Durban that - amongst other things - pursues this point in a section called "Need for a common accounting system".

So, I will try to take some of the work I had done earlier and roll it into a write-up of this report by this weekend. I think it's worthwhile and has some shelf life.

(Unless someone else is running with the Tracker communique...)