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Lessons from a decade of emissions gap assessments

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This publication has been prepared by the scientific editors of the UN Environment Emissions Gap Reports:
John Christensen (UNEP DTU Partnership) and Anne Olhoff (UNEP DTU Partnership).

UN Environment warmly thanks all the authors, the members of the steering committee and the reviewers of the emissions gap assessments over the past 10 years for their invaluable contributions.

This year, UN Environment will publish the tenth edition of the annual Emissions Gap Report. To mark the 10-year anniversary and as a contribution to the United Nations Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit, this publication revisits the gap rationale and how it has evolved, comparing the expectations following the Copenhagen Accord with the reality 10 years later. The findings are Lessons from a decade of emissions gap assessments sobering. Despite a decade of increasing political and societal focus on climate change and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not been curbed, and the emissions gap is larger than ever.

The challenges for the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and for international climate change negotiations in 2019 are clear. Unless mitigation ambition and action increase substantially and immediately in the form of new or updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and are reflected in ambitious long-term GHG development strategies, exceeding the 1.5°C goal can no longer be avoided, and achieving the well-below 2°C temperature goal becomes increasingly challenging. These and other key lessons emerging from a decade of Emissions Gap Reports are summarized under the 10 headings of this publication.