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Mind the Gap! New UN & OECD reports show countries must act on climate gaps ahead of COP26

Flags of the United Nations in Geneva. Photo by Mathias Reding on unsplash
Flags of the United Nations in Geneva. Photo by Mathias Reding on unsplash

Two new reports released today are showing the major climate gaps that world leaders need to address by COP26 in just 44 days’ time.  

The ‘UNFCCC NDC Synthesis Report’ shows that countries’ climate pledges (NDCs) submitted to the UN since the last version of this report in February will not significantly close the emissions gap that is necessary for the world to limit warming at 1.5C.  

Today’s UNFCCC NDC Synthesis report is just the latest piece of evidence highlighting the major emissions gap between current emissions and what is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5C. Recent research has found that if all G20 countries set ambitious 1.5C aligned NDCs for 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, global temperature rise at the end of the century could be limited to 1.7C, keeping the 1.5C goal in reach. A second report issued this week also shows that NDCs submitted so far in 2020-2021 have only narrowed the gap to 1.5C by around 4 GtCO2e or up to 15%.  

This morning, the OECD also published a report. This assesses progress towards reaching the goal of mobilising $100bn a year in climate finance from developed to developing countries. The figures show that pre-COVID efforts up to 2019 had essentially plateaued at $80bn. 

In response, E3G is calling on leaders at the UN General Assembly, especially G20 emitters, to step up action to close these climate gaps by: 

  1. submitting new NDCs by 12 October (the deadline set by the UNFCCC);  
  2. agreeing in Glasgow an ambitious package of deals to raise climate targets in the early 2020s, galvanising public and political momentum to close the emissions ambition gap, thus keeping the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C in reach.  
  3. setting an ambitious $100bn delivery plan that responds to vulnerable country concerns by aiming for $600bn over 6 years and $50bn/year for adaptation, recapitalising Multilateral Development Banks, increasing grants, and establishing new architecture for finance mobilisation. 


Alex Scott, E3G Climate Diplomacy Programme Lead, said:  

“There is a stark gap between where we are and where we need to be to avoid catastrophic climate change. All countries need to step up to close the ambition gap, but especially the G20 countries who all promised to submit new NDCs by COP26.”  

Tom Evans, E3G Climate Diplomacy Researcher, said:  

“This is a clear signal to world leaders that they are expected to step up action to close the emissions gap at COP26. The Glasgow summit will need to reach collective agreement on how it can address this dismal state of affairs. A global pact to submit stronger climate targets aligned with 1.5C is key to unlocking the action in the early 2020s needed by the Paris Agreement.”  

Jennifer Tollmann, E3G EU Diplomacy Lead, said:  

“This is why coordinated EU diplomacy ahead of COP26 is so essential. The Green Deal may be getting the EU house in order but the broader G20 is off track, and CBAM alone won’t fix that.  


Countries like Indonesia, South Africa and India need confidence that EU partners will support them in mobilising at-scale investment in new green infrastructure. Otherwise, in the face of horrendous cost of capital, they may not be confident in their abilities to meet the significantly more ambitious climate targets needed to bridge the gap.


Reinvesting in a High-Ambition Coalition, EU leaders need to use the 40 days left till COP26 to broker the political deals that can make COP26 a launchpad for closing the gap. With their traditional climate-vulnerable allies and G20 countries alike.” 

Iskander Erzini Vernoit, E3G Climate Finance Expert, said: 

“The new OECD figures for climate finance illustrate that flows essentially plateaued pre-COVID. This underscores the need for a strong delivery plan which learns from past shortcomings, offering ambitious commitments underpinned by new money and architecture. 


The world needs to be mobilising trillions of dollars per year in climate financing, and these numbers below $100bn tell us that countries need to go back to the drawing board. After a year where they mobilized tens of trillions in COVID response spending, we know what an emergency response looks like.” 

Available for comment  

Please contact directly:  

Alex Scott, Climate Diplomacy and Geopolitics Lead,  
m: +44 (0) 7482 750 760,  

Tom Evans, E3G Geopolitics and Diplomacy expert,  
m: +44 (0) 7931 317 327,  

Jennifer Tollmann, E3G EU Diplomacy and Geopolitics lead,  
m: +49 (0) 1517 3019 723,  

Iskander Erzini Vernoit, E3G Climate Finance expert, 
m: +44 (0) 771 253 7878,  


Notes to Editors  

  1. E3G is an independent European climate change think tank accelerating the transition to a climate safe world. E3G is made up of world leading strategists on the political economy of climate change, dedicated to achieving a safe climate for all.  
  2. In 2020, E3G was ranked the seventh most globally influential environmental think tank by the Global Go To Think Tank Index.  
  3. For further enquiries email or phone +44 (0)7783 787 863 


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