UN emission Gap Report, 2017

About the Report:
The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.


The report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information, including that reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), as well as more recent scientific studies.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, set up at the request of member governments, dedicated to the task of providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts.

Summary of report

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 warns that a big carbon emissions gap exists between the levels that can be achieved in 2030 with present climate commitments, and what needs to be done using set pathways to limit increases in global average temperature to less than 2° Celsius or a more ambitious 1.5° C by the year 2100.
The report says full implementation of the unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and comparable action afterwards “could result in a temperature increase of about 3.2° C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels”, while full implementation of conditional NDCs would marginally lower that projection by about 0.2°C.

Fossil fuels and cement production account for about 70% of greenhouse gases


A large part of the potential to close the emissions gap lies in solar and wind energy, efficient appliances and passenger cars, afforestation and stopping deforestation. These six factors hold a total potential of up to 22 GtCO2e per annum, the report says.

Strong action on plugging other greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon, could contribute.

Practice question:

1. Consider the following statements with respect to United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP):
1. It was founded as a result of the Stockholm conference in 1972.
2. It coordinates UN’s environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
3. It facilitates the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development.
4. It’s headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland.
Which of the above statements are correct?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 1, 2 and 3

(c) 2, 3 and 4

(d) All

Answer: b)
• The United Nations Environment Programme is an agency of United Nations and coordinates its environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded by Maurice Strong, its first director, as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972 and Environment has overall responsibility for environmental problems among United Nations agencies but international talks on specialized issues, such as addressing global warming or combating desertification, are overseen by other UN organizations.
• UN Environment has aided in the formulation of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, trans boundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways. Relevant documents, including scientific papers, are available via the UNEP Document Repository.
• Its headquartered at Nairobi, Kenya.
• UNEP work encompasses
1. Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trend
2. Developing international and national environmental instruments
3. Strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment
4. Facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development