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Emissions Gap Report Warns of Nearly 3°C Global Warming

Emissions Gap Report 2023: The recently released Emissions Gap report by the United Nations paints a dire picture of the world’s climate future. With projections indicating a potential warming of nearly 3 degrees Celsius, the report underscores the urgency for aggressive action to avert catastrophic consequences.

Emissions Gap Report 2023

  • The report underscores the grim reality of global emissions, revealing that the world emitted 57.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2022—a 1.2 percent increase from the previous year.
  • This surge in emissions is higher than the record set in 2019, demonstrating that the brief dip during the COVID-19 pandemic did not translate into a sustained reduction.
  • Notably, the emissions of major contributors like China, the United States, and India rose, while the European Union, Russia, and Brazil witnessed a slight decrease.

1.5-Degree Celsius Challenge

  • The Paris Agreement, established in 2015, aims to prevent long-term annual average temperatures from exceeding a 2-degree Celsius increase, with a preference for containing the rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
  • Unfortunately, the current trajectory, even with countries’ existing climate policies, is steering the world towards a minimum 3-degree Celsius increase by the end of the century.
  • This overshooting of the 1.5-degree Celsius target poses severe consequences for the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity.

Global Inequality in Emissions

  • The Emissions Gap Report 2023 sheds light on global patterns of inequality in emissions. Certain regions and countries bear a disproportionate burden of impact while contributing less to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Understanding these disparities is crucial for formulating equitable and effective climate policies that consider the varied responsibilities of nations in combating climate change.

Political Action Imperatives

The report identifies four fundamental areas where urgent political action is required to mitigate global warming:

Stringent Emission Reductions: The lack of significant emission reductions since 2010 has intensified the challenge.

  • The report emphasizes that annual emission cuts of 5.3 percent from 2024, reaching 8.7 percent per year on average for the 1.5°C pathway, are necessary to meet the emissions gap.
  • Early action in 2010 would have necessitated much lower average cuts, underscoring the urgency of immediate and drastic measures.

Long-Term Climate Action: The impact of inaction is already evident in 2023, poised to become the hottest year ever recorded.

  • The report underscores the need for sustained and long-term climate action to prevent irreversible damage. It urges nations to commit to the goals set in the Paris Agreement and go beyond current promises to ensure a sustainable future.

Addressing Global Inequality: Recognizing the disparities in emissions contributions, the report calls for policies that address global inequality.

  • Developing nations should be supported in adopting cleaner technologies and sustainable development practices, fostering a collaborative approach to climate action.

Climate Adaptation and Resilience: In addition to mitigation efforts, the report emphasizes the importance of climate adaptation and resilience.

  • As the world experiences the tangible impacts of climate change, investing in adaptive strategies becomes imperative to protect vulnerable communities and ecosystems.

Current Emissions Pledges and Impending Climate Threats

The Stark Reality of 3°C Warming

  • At the heart of the report lies the alarming prediction that, even with current emissions pledges, the world is on a trajectory to warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius this century.
  • Scientists warn of dire consequences, including the runaway melting of ice sheets and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest, should this scenario unfold.

Canyon of Emissions Gap

  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres aptly described the current state of affairs as an “emissions canyon,” emphasizing the severity of the gap between existing commitments and the actions needed to mitigate climate change.
  • The report urges governments to take aggressive measures to bridge this canyon and avoid the looming 3°C temperature rise.

COP28 Summit

Against the backdrop of the Emissions Gap Report, world leaders are set to convene in Dubai for the COP28 summit. The primary objective is to keep the Paris Agreement’s warming target of 1.5°C alive.

However, the report’s findings cast doubt on the feasibility of achieving this goal without substantial and immediate intervention.

The Dwindling Hope for 1.5°C

  • The report dashes hopes for maintaining the 1.5°C target, indicating that global greenhouse gas emissions must plummet by 42% by 2030 to have a chance.
  • Even under the most optimistic scenarios, the likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5°C stands at a mere 14%, raising questions about the attainability of this crucial climate milestone.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Surge

Record-Breaking Emissions

A concerning trend highlighted in the report is the rise in global greenhouse gas emissions. From 2021 to 2022, emissions increased by 1.2%, reaching a staggering 57.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This surge underscores the urgent need for immediate and effective measures to reverse this upward trajectory.

Evaluating Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

  • The report’s assessment of countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) plays a pivotal role in understanding the potential impact of these commitments.
  • By comparing unconditional and conditional pledges, the analysis reveals the persistent gap and the temperature rise associated with these varying levels of commitment.

Glimmer of Progress Amidst the Crisis

Progress since the Paris Agreement

  • While the anticipated level of warming is slightly higher than previous projections, there has been acknowledgment of progress since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
  • Anne Olhoff, the chief scientific editor of the report, points out that warming projections based on emissions in 2015 were significantly higher, indicating some positive strides.

Need for Accelerated Efforts

Despite incremental progress, the report emphasizes the need for accelerated efforts. The simulations in the 2023 report, based on more climate models, indicate a slightly elevated warming projection. It calls for a renewed commitment to meet and exceed the targets set in the Paris Agreement.


The Emissions Gap Report 2023 serves as a wake-up call, urging the global community to reevaluate and intensify efforts in the fight against climate change. The 1.5-degree Celsius threshold breached in 86 days in 2023 is not just a statistic but a stark warning that immediate and decisive action is needed. The path to a sustainable future requires collaborative political commitment, technological innovation, and a collective will to safeguard the planet for future generations. As we navigate the challenges outlined in the report, our choices today will shape the climate legacy we leave behind. It’s time to act now.

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What is the Emissions Gap Report 2023?

The Emissions Gap Report 2023 is a comprehensive assessment by the United Nations that evaluates global greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on climate change.

What does the report reveal about global emissions in 2022?

The report highlights that the world emitted 57.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2022, marking a 1.2 percent increase from the previous year.

What is the significance of the 1.5-Degree Celsius Challenge?

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with a preference for a 1.5-degree Celsius increase. However, the report indicates that the world is on a trajectory towards a minimum 3-degree Celsius increase by the end of the century, posing severe consequences for ecosystems and biodiversity.

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