UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018

Nations must triple their efforts in order to achieve the 2 °C climate  target, according to the 2018 edition of UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report. Although it is still possible to keep global warming to below 2 °C, the technical feasibility of bridging the 1.5 °C gap is dwindling. Researchers at PBL were among the leading and contributing authors of this study.

If the emission gap is not closed by 2030, achieving the 2 °C temperature goal will become unlikely

Global emissions are on the rise, as national commitments to combat climate change come up short. But surging momentum from the private sector and untapped potential from innovation and green financing offer pathways to bridging the emission gap. The authors of the Emissions Gap Report 2018 present these findings, along with a sweeping review of climate action and the latest measurements of global emissions.

Global CO2 emissions increased in 2017, after three years of no growth

The evidence outlined here, just days before the start of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), shows global emissions have reached historic levels, at 53.5 GtCO2e, with no signs of peaking – the point when emissions switch from increasing to decreasing. The authors’ assessment shows that only 57 countries (representing 60% of global emissions) are on track to do so by 2030.

Nations must triple their efforts to achieve the 2 °C target

Analysis and a review of the progress set against national commitments under the Paris Agreement makes clear that the current pace of national action is insufficient for achieving the Paris targets. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap figure for this year’s report is larger than ever. Translated into climate action, the authors conclude that nations must triple their ambition levels to achieve the 2 °C target and make five times the current effort if they are to achieve no more than a 1.5 °C increase in the global temperature.

Action by sub-national and non-state actors is key to enhancing future ambitions

The Emissions Gap Report 2018 highlights that there is still a possibility for bridging the emission gap and keeping global warming to below 2 °C. Following an exhaustive review of climate actions by the private sector and on sub-national levels, the authors offer a roadmap for implementing the type of transformative action that will be required to maximise the potential in each of these sectors. Ranging from city, regional and national governments to companies, investors, higher education institutions and civil society organisations, non-state actors are increasingly committing to bold climate action.


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), PBL lead author Michel den Elzen and contributions by Jos Olivier, Mark Roelfsema and Heleen van Soest


Publication title
UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2018
Publication date
27 November 2018
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