24 September, 2020

Background Paper: Key mitigation options to close the global 2030 ambition and action gap


Ursula Fuentes, Marie-Camille Attard, Ryan Wilson, Gaurav Ganti, Claire Fyson, Matthias Duwe, Hannes Böttcher

Staying within the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C warming limit requires closing the global 2030 ambition and action gap arising from governments’ currently insufficient policies and contributions. G20 countries have a crucial role to play in realising increased climate policy ambition, given their strong economic and political influence as well as their high share in global greenhouse gas emissions.

This background paper provides an overview of mitigation options from recent literature and analyses the role of the G20 in their implementation. It provides the basis to identify key policy areas and promising options for intergovernmental cooperation between the G20 nations or other relevant actors.

The key characteristics of Paris Agreement pathways highlight the urgent need for transformational change in all sectors to close the ambition gap and keep the Paris Agreement Long-term temperature goal within reach. Two key characteristics of mitigation pathways in line with the Paris Agreement Long-term temperature goal are relevant for the identification of effective policy areas and cooperation initiatives to close the gap:

  • All sectoral transformations have to happen in parallel and in an integrated manner. There is no space for offsetting one against the other, given the urgency to achieve additional emission reductions to close the 2030 ambition and action gap.
  • Energy and land use transformations need to be carefully planned and managed, taking into account both linkages between sectoral transformations (e.g. biomass use for energy and for achieving negative emissions), and policies selected in order to maximise synergies with
    sustainable development.

A large volume of literature including analyses at regional and national levels shows how the 2030 ambition and action gap can be closed with existing technologies and to a large extent with proven policies that can easily be replicated and adopted more broadly.

The energy sector transformation with large mitigation potential to close the 2030 ambition and action gap is critically dependent on three strongly linked elements:

  • Fast decarbonisation of electricity generation, in particular through phasing out fossil fuels and shifting to renewable energy
  • Reduction of total energy use and increase in energy efficiency across all end use sectors
  • Decarbonisation of end use sectors through direct or indirect electrification (sector coupling).

In the area of land-use, two policy areas need to be highlighted to achieve the key benchmarks for closing the gap:

  • Agriculture: Demand-side measures (especially on reducing food waste and inducing dietary changes) can provide mitigation potential additional to mitigation on the supply side but have not been covered broadly in policies yet.
  • Forestry: The need to halt deforestation through protection of existing forests, restore degraded forests and increase afforestation is a key policy area.