UN Climate Conference: Launch of World Emissions Clock


The World Data Lab (WDL) in cooperation with WU, announced the launch of the World Emissions Clock (WEC) on the margins of the UN Climate Conference in Egypt today. WU and WDL have developed this statistical model in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ), the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Patrick McGovern Foundation, the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, and the University of Oxford.

The WEC projects the predicted developments in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from 180 countries, five sectors and up to 24 sub sectors until 2050. The WEC represents one of the most detailed and consistent data records of its kind.

Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, professor at WU and scientific consultant to WDL, has led the development of the novel statistical model used for the estimation of future GHG emissions under the assumption of no further changes in climate policy. "Using state-of-the-art econometric methods, the WEC is one of the most powerful evidence-based tools available to assess the challenges of climate change mitigation worldwide”, says the researcher.

Behind the commitments under the Paris agreement

The WEC shows that the world has just surpassed 50 Gigatons of emissions in 2022 and will reach almost 58 Gigatons by the end of the year 2022. This is the highest-ever recorded amount of annual emissions.

The World Emissions Clock also presents two new concepts: First, an “ambition gap”, comparing the promised global reduction in GHG emissions to the commitments of the Paris agreement. Second, an “implementation gap”, illustrating the difference between the promised reductions in GHG emissions of a country to its actual savings in GHG emissions. This year, we already see an ambition gap of 5.3 Gigatons globally compared to current commitments with the 1.5-degree trajectory laid down in the Paris agreement. Further, an implementation gap of 2.6 Gigatons is estimated as the current emissions are falling behind most countries’ formal commitments.

This means that the world is now almost 8 Gigatons behind the commitments under the Paris agreement. These estimates are based on a novel statistical model developed by researchers at WU and WDL in partnership with the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis. The model aims at creating realistic projections of GHG emissions under different assumption concerning climate policy.

A glimmer of hope: collaborative efforts help tackle emissions

Despite the ongoing challenges to reduce emissions, there is also a glimmer of hope emerging from the WEC data, as it demonstrates that prosperity can be possible even in a low-emissions trajectory: The average world citizen emits 7.4 tons GHG emissions per year. However, there are huge differences in emissions across the world, ranging from 18.6 tons in the United States to 4.1 tons in Egypt. If we combine good practices in developed economies, such transport in the Netherlands with land-use improvements in South Korea and building insulation in Sweden, residents in advanced countries would have a footprint of less than 5 tons per capita per year.  Learning from each other and sharing best practices amongst peers is crucial to allow future generations to live in a prosperous and sustainable world.

Further information:
World Emissions Clock:
Introducing the WEC:

Alexander Vieß
Research Communication
WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Tel.:+ 43-1-31336-5478

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