Emissions Gap Report 2019 Global progress report on climate action

We are on the brink of missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

If we rely only on the current climate commitments of the Paris Agreement, temperatures can be expected to rise to 3.2°C this century. Temperatures have already increased 1.1°C, leaving families, homes and communities devastated.

We need to close the ‘commitment’ gap between what we say we will do and what we need to do to prevent dangerous levels of climate change. Governments cannot afford to wait. People and families cannot afford to wait. Economies must shift to a decarbonization pathway now.

Today our report card says we are failing. These are the 4 numbers that hold the fate of so many in balance:

Today we still have the chance to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C. While there will still be climate impacts at 1.5°C, this is the level scientists say is associated with less devastating impacts than higher levels of global warming. Every fraction of additional warming beyond 1.5°C will result in increasingly severe and expensive impacts.

Scientists agree that to get on track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, emissions must drop rapidly to 25 gigatons by 2030.

Our challenge: based on today’s commitments, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, over twice what they should be.

This figure is our global solution. Collectively, if commitments, policies and action can deliver a 7.6% emissions reduction every year between 2020 and 2030, we CAN limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The 1.5°C goal is on the brink of becoming impossible:

We are facing emissions reductions so increasingly steep, it may soon be impossible to achieve 1.5°C.

10 20 30 40 50 60 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 Emissions per current commitments * 2030 Goal:25 Gt CO2e * Median estimate of global emissions if we proceed without updated commitments (NDC scenario)

10 years ago, if countries had acted on this science, governments would have needed to reduce emissions by 3.3% each year.

Today, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year.

Today, even the most ambitious national climate action plans are far short of a 7.6% reduction.

The world now needs a five-fold increase in collective current commitments. The cuts required are ambitious, but still possible.

Every day we delay, the steeper and more difficult the cuts become. By just 2025 the cut needed would will be 15.5% each year, making the 1.5°C target almost impossible.

Delayed action delays the inevitable. Delayed action sends the eventual price tags for sea defenses; food security; infrastructure adaptation ever higher. While we wait, emissions continue to be released into the atmosphere, and the cost and difficulty to reduce them only becomes more challenging.

The Emissions Gap 2019

Every year, the Gap Report looks at the expected size of the gap in 2030 and progress countries are making in closing it.

It looks at different scenarios based on the pledges that countries made to reduce or minimize their emissions under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

These pledges are known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.

The scenarios considered are:

  • No climate policies since 2005 (baseline).
  • Current policies only.
  • The fulfilment of current unconditional NDCs.
  • The fulfilment of NDCs with conditions attached.
20 30 40 50 60 70 2015 2020 2025 2030 2°Crange 1.5°Crange 1.8°Crange

The baseline scenario estimates what would happen to global greenhouse gas emissions in the absence of any climate policies since 2005.

The current policy scenario takes into account all of the policies now in place, but assumes that no additional measures are undertaken.

The unconditional NDC scenario assumes that countries meet all of the climate pledges that have no conditions attached.

Under the conditional NDC scenario, it is assumed that countries achieve all of their climate pledges, including those with conditions.

If we want to prevent warming of 2°C by 2100, then we will have to make sure that our emissions output doesn’t exceed 40 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

To limit warming to 1.8°C by the end of the century, emissions will have to be cut even further, not exceeding 34 gigatons of CO2 equivalent by 2030.

And to prevent 1.5°C of temperature rise by 2100, our total emissions will have to stay below 25 gigatons of CO2 equivalent.

Are governments doing enough?

No. Today, countries are not doing enough. An increasing number of countries and regions are adopting ambitious goals in line with the transformation needed, but the scale and pace is not sufficient.

Most nations are expected to strengthen their climate commitments in 2020. To date, 71 countries and 11 regions, accounting for about 15% of global GHG emissions in total, have long-term objectives to achieve net-zero emissions, differing in scope, timing and the degree to which they are legally binding. This leaves countries representing the remaining 85% of global GHG emissions still to make similar commitments.

The G20 (a group of 19 countries, plus the EU) account for 78% of all emissions. Theirs is the biggest opportunity to lead the world into a thriving, renewable future.


Two G20 members (United Kingdom, France) have passed legislation.

Three G20 members (Germany, Italy, and the EU28) are currently in the process of passing legislation.

Fifteen G20 members have no net-zero emission target legislation.

Here, circles are scaled according to each country’s emissions. The top four emitters (China, USA, EU28 and India) contribute to over 55% of the total emissions over the last decade, excluding emissions from land-use change such as deforestation.


China’s existing policies to promote renewable energy throughout the country appear at the top of the global rankings. Subsidies to support wind and solar power generation in China are some of the highest in the world. Transformation in China is a significant emissions reduction opportunity: after a slowdown, China’s emissions grew 1.6% in 2018 to reach a high of 13.7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent.


Six states and territories have passed legislation setting state-wide goals for 100 per cent clean energy by 2045 or 2050. Over 100 American cities have made 100 per cent clean energy commitments. Four major automobile manufacturers signed a deal with the state of California to strengthen gas mileage and emission standards for cars. The US emits 13% of global emissions and had seen a gradual decline. However, emissions rose 2.5% in 2018, so there is opportunity for updated commitments.

The EU is likely to meet its NDC of GHG emission reductions of at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 with its currently implemented policies. The EU revised its renewable energy target for 2030 from 27 per cent to 32 per cent and its efficiency target from 27 per cent to 32.5 per cent. Its 8.5% of global emissions has declined 1% per year across the last decade. Emissions declined 1.3% in 2018.


India continues to consider timelines and targets for the transition to electric vehicles. Some of their proposed targets would put India at the forefront of electric vehicle development globally. India’s 7% of global emissions grew 5.5% in 2018. Emissions per capita is one of the lowest within the G20.

The Russian Federation (4.8%) and Japan (2.7%) are the next largest emitters.

If land-use change emissions were included, the rankings would change, with Brazil likely to be the largest emitter.

If emissions per country, per person projected for 2030 are examined, we can see the scale of the opportunities that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada and Russia also have to reduce their emissions.

Why is 1.5°C important?

While there will still be climate impacts at 1.5°C, this is the level scientists say is associated with less devastating impacts than higher levels of global warming. Every fraction of additional warming beyond 1.5°C will bring worse impacts, threatening lives, livelihoods and economies.

The Emissions Gap Report 2019 shows that we are on the brink of missing the 1.5°C target and condemning humanity to a future of serious climate change impacts. Countries cannot wait until they submit their updated Paris pledges in one year’s time to act. They need to do much more, starting now. Cities, regions, businesses and individuals must all play their part too.

We simply cannot afford inaction. For ourselves, for our countries, for our future.

Do you know what your country’s commitments are? Do you know if they’re sufficient? Do you know which actions are the biggest opportunities for your country to take?

Read the report, be informed, act now.

Download Report