Key findings
  • Studies show that emission levels of approximately 44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) (range: 39-44 GtCO2e*) in 2020 would be consistent with a “likely” chance of limiting global warming to 2°C.
  • Under business-as-usual projections, global emissions could reach 56 GtCO2e (range: 54-60 GtCO2e) in 2020, leaving a gap of 12 GtCO2e.
  • If the lowest-ambition pledges were implemented in a “lenient” fashion**, emissions could be lowered slightly to 53 GtCO2e (range: 52-57 GtCO2e), leaving a significant gap of 9 GtCO2e.
  • The gap could be reduced substantially by policy options being discussed in the negotiations:
    • By countries moving to higher ambition, conditional pledges
    • By the negotiations adopting rules that avoid a net increase in emissions from (a) “lenient” accounting of land use, land-use change and forestry activities and (b) the use of surplus emission units
  • If the above policy options were to be implemented, emissions in 2020 could be lowered to 49 GtCO2e (range: 47-51 GtCO2e), reducing the size of the gap to 5 GtCO2e.  This is approximately equal to the annual global emissions from all the world’s cars, buses and transport in 2005 – But this is also almost 60 per cent of the way towards reaching the 2°C target.
  • It will also be important to avoid increasing the gap by “double counting” of offsets.
  • Studies show that it is feasible to bridge the remaining gap through more ambitious domestic actions, some of which could be supported by international climate finance.
  • With or without a gap, current studies indicate that steep emission reductions are needed post 2020 in order to keep our chances of limiting warming to 2°C or 1.5°C
*     Range here refers to the “majority of results”, i.e. their 20th and 80th percentile.
** “Lenient” in this report is used to refer to the situation in which LULUCF accounting rules and the use of surplus emission units result in a net increase in emissions