Photo of Earth taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Apollo 13 spacecraft during its trans-Earth journey home. Photo: NASA

Act now to limit global warming

Wednesday 01 Nov 17


John M. Christensen
Director of UNEP DTU Partnership
DTU Management Engineering
+45 45 33 53 00


Anne Olhoff
Head of Programme
DTU Management Engineering
+45 45 33 52 52

Emissions Gap Report

  • The Emissions Gap Report is published each year immediately prior to COP meetings to inform decision-makers and to support the discussions during the climate summits by giving an academically based assessment of global greenhouse gas emissions and describing strategies and technologies to limit and reduce emissions.

  • About 50 researchers from all over the world contribute to the report. It is a so-called assessment report which summarizes the latest climate research that is relevant in relation to global warming and reducing greenhouse gases.

  • The report is published by UNEP in collaboration with the UNEP DTU Partnership, and is planned in cooperation with a steering committee.

  • The steering committee comprises representatives from, for example, the UNEP DTU Partnership, UNEP, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, University College London and others.

Download 'the Emissions Gap Report 2017'.

The world’s countries should act now to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement to mitigate global warming. This is the conclusion of the Emissions Gap Report 2017.

The target of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius—if possible down to 1.5 degrees Celsius—at the end of this century can still be achieved, but it requires immediate and concerted action from countries around the world. This is the conclusion of the Emissions Gap Report 2017, which has just been published.

The report is published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the UNEP DTU Partnership, where its director John Christensen and programme manager Anne Olhoff are the report’s main authors.

The Emissions Gap Report describes the gap between the countries’ promised reduction of greenhouse gases and the actual reduction required if we are to limit global temperature increases.

Risk of 3 degrees of global warming
The fact of the matter is that global emissions of greenhouse gases are still increasing, but now considerably more slowly than previously. Moreover, if all countries were to deliver the promised reductions in greenhouse gases, it is likely that we would end up with global warming of 3 degrees Celsius by the end of 2100.

Even though the Paris Agreement was deemed a breakthrough in global climate negotiations at the COP21 climate summit in 2015, the report describes how countries’ promised reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases only cover a third of what is required to achieve the agreement’s target. If the target of temperature increases of less than 2 degrees Celsius is to be achieved, it will reduce the risk of climate change having serious consequences which can destroy human health and livelihoods as well as economies around the world.

Big potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
However, the Emissions Gap Report 2017 indicates that there is considerable potential for making significant cuts to emissions of greenhouse gases, explains John Christensen, Director of the UNEP DTU Partnership:

“In the second half of the report, we look at the possibilities within all the main sectors for reducing emissions further using existing technology and existing policies which simply need to be applied. And fortunately, the potential is huge, but it requires that basically every country worldwide takes steps if we are to realize the targets we have set ourselves in the Paris Agreement.”

Report in demand at COP meetings
This is the eighth year that the report is being published. Programme Manager Anne Olhoff says that the Emissions Gap Report always attracts a great deal of attention at the climate summits:

“It differs from many other climate reports in that it’s not simply a doomsday report where you get the impression that all hope is lost. In this report, we describe how the world is far from where it should be in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but that it is still possible to keep global warming below 2 degrees if we reduce emissions faster and further.”

Huge international interest in the report
Interest in the report is also reflected at the press conference held a week before each COP (Conference of Parties) summit when the international press turns out in force to hear its findings. The press conference is usually held abroad—this year in Geneva.

Last year, the report was cited in the media on 4,764 separate occasions, of which 2,800 were significant mentions in major media across 115 countries in 30 different languages.

UNEP DTU Partnership

Photo: Adam Mørk
The UN City Copenhagen. Photo: Adam Mørk.

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)was founded in 1972, and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • The UNEP DTU Partnership (formerly UNEP Risø Centre) is organizationally part of DTU Management Engineering, but located at UN City Copenhagen.

  • The UNEP DTU Partnership has developed into a major global player within energy, the environment, sustainable development, and climate change on the basis of an agreement between the UNEP, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and DTU.

  • The UNEP DTU Partnership comprises a team of 70 researchers and economists from more than 20 countries.

  • The UNEP DTU Partnership supports activities to reduce carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency, and ensure sustainable development in more than 50 developing countries in cooperation with a broad network of national, regional, and international institutions and donors.