Emissions Gap Report 2020


Emissions Gap Report 2020 was published on December 9, 2020, by the United Nations Environment Programme.

This 11th edition of the annual publication was prepared by a team of 51 scientists from 35 institutes across 18 countries, assessing scientific studies including reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It assesses the gap between the “…estimated future global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions if countries implement their climate mitigation pledges,” and the global emission levels from the ‘least-cost pathways’ for limiting global warming to 2°C below ‘pre-industrial levels’ by 2100.

The 128-page report has six parts: Introduction (Chapter 1); Global emissions trends and G20 status and outlook (Chapter 2); The emissions gap (Chapter 3); Bridging the gap – implications of current COVID-19 fiscal rescue and recovery measures (Chapter 4); Bridging the gap – the role of international shipping and aviation (Chapter 5) and Bridging the gap – the role of equitable low-carbon lifestyles (Chapter 6).


  1. China, Europe, India and USA, the top four greenhouse gas emitters, accounted for 55 per cent of global emissions in 2019. The top seven emitters – which include the Russian Federation, Japan, and emissions from the international transport sector – accounted for 65 per cent of all emissions.

  2. As of November 1, 2020, global greenhouse gas emissions declined by a total of 7.1 per cent since the year began. The report says that this is due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions implemented globally, as well as changes in climate policies worldwide. Daily emissions dropped by a maximum of 17 per cent in April 2020.

  3. Covid-19 containment measures resulted in a marked but temporary dip in global greenhouse gas emissions. Unless post-lockdown economic recovery measures are used as an opportunity for a low-carbon transition, the reduction in global warming will be no more than 0.01°C by 2050, and global warming will be more than 1.5°C by 2100.

  4. According to the report, the government of India allocated funds for largescale landscape restoration and reforestation efforts through its Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, to support plantation work, forest management and wildlife conservation.

  5. In Brazil, the government changed the rules and procedures for land use regulation and law enforcement in the Amazon rainforest and other regions, to aid economic activity.

  6. Global carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were lower in 2018 than they were in 2008. These levels are projected to increase by 4 to 50 per cent in the future decades, as compared to 2018. The report states that emissions from the aviation sector in 2050 are projected to be about three to four times what they were in 2015.

  7. If left unchecked, the global shipping and aviation sectors are projected to emit increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.

  8. The report notes that the top 10 per cent of income earners account for around 36 to 49 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, whereas the lowest 50 per cent of earners account for around 7 to 15 per cent. It is important to consider these consumption inequities and identify populations with very high and very low carbon footprints, the report says.

    Focus and Factoids by Nivedita Gautam.


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations Environment Programme


09 Dec, 2020