The mitigation pledges submitted by parties to the Paris Agreement fall far short of the reductions necessary to stay below two degrees of warming and avoid dangerous climate change (UNEP 2017). Drawing on direct observation of UNFCCC negotiations and side events at the 23rd Conference of Parties in Bonn (COP23) and an analysis of post-Paris Agreement working group submissions and texts (2015–2017), this paper traces two sets of proposals intended to help close the climate mitigation gap: 1) circular economy and, 2) alternative emissions accounting. Both represent significant potential given that they require consideration of the emissions embedded in international systems of production and consumption. However, while proposals centred on circular economic concepts are rapidly gaining support and legitimacy, proposals to implement alternative emissions accounting systems have failed to generate backing in official UN process. Our analysis points to the highly political nature of discussions about consumption and suggests an ongoing and clear preference for the technical and market-based solutions offered by circular economy relative to the equity-based and structural solutions suggested by alternative accounting. Drawing on a now deep body of literature which indicates that technical solutions are insufficient to address the emissions associated with growing levels of production-consumption, we argue that the Paris Agreement is likely to continue to suffer from a mitigation gap until the problem is recognised as more than a technical one, and the structural inequities underlying unsustainable levels of production-consumption and their associated emissions are addressed.