The first Production Gap Report was launched in November 2019 by leading research institutions and experts, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Modelled after UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report series — and conceived as a complementary analysis — the Production Gap Report conveys the large discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production and the global production levels necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C and 2°C.

This year’s report comes as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown measures impact societies — and their use and production of coal, oil, and gas — in unprecedented ways. The context for fossil fuel production is thus changing rapidly. Governments are pouring money into their economies, taking on increasing debt, and even changing environmental regulations in a bid to respond and recover from the pandemic’s economic and social fall-out. This could have lasting consequences for the nature and speed of transitions away from fossil fuels — and, consequently, for the production gap.

This year’s report is a special issue that considers the production gap in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recognizes that the world is still at a potential turning point towards a healthier and more resilient, low-carbon future. It considers government responses to the COVID-19-induced crisis and the implications of those responses for the production gap. It includes an interim update of the production gap, while acknowledging the current uncertainty of long-term government planning amid the focus on near-term solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. Next year, the 2021 Production Gap Report will include a broader assessment of the production gap, including the country profiles that were a centrepiece of the 2019 report.

This report represents a collaboration of many research and academic institutions and experts. UNEP staff provided guidance and insights from their experience leading other gap reports. The report relies on publicly accessible government plans and projections for fossil fuel production, and other publicly available government, intergovernmental, and research sources, as cited and listed in the references.