Global Net Zero progress

A Stocktake of Global Net Zero Progress

How aligned are we on the global path to net zero? Teaming up with ECIU, Oxford Net Zero surveyed more than 4,000 significant entities; all nations, all states and regions in the 25 highest-emitting countries; all cities with a population above 500,000; and all companies in the Forbes Global 2000 list. Together countries with net zero targets now represent:

Graph: Countries with net zero targets together represent 61% of global emissions, 68% of global Gross Domestic Product (in PPP terms) and 52% of the global population.

Net zero isn’t only a clear and simple target, it’s what the planet needs in order to halt the rise in temperatures.” Dr Steve Smith, from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford 

This report, Taking Stock: A global assessment of net zero targets, is the first systematic analysis of net zero commitments across countries, sub-national governments and major companies.

EXISTING NET ZERO TARGETS: indicators of quality

%

Meet basic robustness criteria

%

Include interim targets

%

Include a reporting mechanism

%

Include a published plan

Dangers of Greenwashing 

Our report highlights that net zero commitments vary hugely in their quality. While 20% of existing net zero targets already meet a certain minimum set of robustness criteria, or ‘starting line’, as set out by the UN Race to Zero Campaign, this leaves significantly more work to be done by governments and business leaders in the months leading up to the UN Climate summit in Glasgow (COP 26).

“While the rapid uptake of net zero targets is encouraging, we need much more clarity from actors on how they plan to get there. It’s particularly important that actors clarify their approach to offsetting. ”  – Dr Thomas Hale from the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Net zero pledges will only deliver the 1.5°C global warming target if plans are robust and enacted swiftly. Failure to improve commitment to targets with better governance and transparency might leave companies and governments open to greenwashing allegations.

CRITERIA: how NET ZERO commitments are ASSESSED

How Sweden scores according to the net zero target quality criteria.
The graphic above offers an example of how Sweden’s net zero commitment scores against the criteria. Click on the picture to enlarge.
The report uses benchmarks based on five key criteria

Timing of targets: What are the key targets and interim years?
  • Reach net zero by 2050 ● Set interim targets ● Act immediately
Status: What is the level of progress?
  • Achieved ● In Law ● Proposed Law ● In Policy Document ● Under Consideration 
Governance: What is the type of monitoring and commitment?
  • Formal, top-level commitment ● Interim targets ● Transparency through regular reporting and tracking ● Clear plan with specific operational implications
Use of offsets: What type of offsetting schemes are used?
  • Require robust standards (e.g. additionality, permanence, verifiability)
  • Specify offsetting approach, avoided emissions, reductions, or removals
Coverage: What type of emissions do targets include?

 

  • All Greenhouse Gases ● Consumption Emissions ● International Aviation and Shipping?
Click here for more detail on the report’s findings according to each benchmark.

 

 

 

findings (By criteria) 

 

Timing of target

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • the majority of targets across all entities are ‘by 2050’
  • however, 212 entities have set a ‘by 2030’ target, three-quarters of them (153) companies
  • China alone makes up the vast bulk of emissions covered by post-2050 commitments
target status in law & Policy

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • across all entities, the vast majority of targets are either proposed and aspirational, or in a policy or strategy document
  • seven nations and four cities have enshrined their commitments in law
  • 21 countries (17%) are net negative, while 44 companies (11%) have achieved their net zero targets
coverage of greenhouse gases & Scopes

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • across all entities, a significant fraction of targets (14% by number) do not specify CO2 only or all greenhouse gases
  • the remainder are split roughly equally between those covering all greenhouse gases and CO2 only or all greenhouse gases
  • only five countries include a share of international aviation and only four include shipping
  • the number of companies including emissions across all Scopes is 27% by number
  • the number of states and cities with targets covering both territorial and consumption emissions is 9% by number
Use of offsets

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • for all types of entity, the majority of commitments are unclear on whether they intend to use carbon offsets
  • very few entities explicitly rule out the use of offsets (one country, eight regions, 11 cities and 33 companies)
  • for those entities that indicate they will use offsets, only a few set conditions on their use (eight countries, 11 regions, 21 cities and 87 companies)
governance & REPORTING

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • regular reporting of progress is widespread for national targets, which was anticipated as this is part of nations’ commitments to the UN climate convention
  • 86 nations, 42 states and regions, 68 cities and 277 companies have a reporting mechanism
  • 25 nations, 41 states & regions, 65 cities and 210 companies have a published plan
  • 115 nations, 35 states & regions, 71 cities and 244 companies have set interim targets
  • across all entities, 10% by number explicitly took equity into account when setting their net zero targets.

findings (By criteria) 

 

Timing of target

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • the majority of targets across all entities are ‘by 2050’
  • however, 212 entities have set a ‘by 2030’ target, three-quarters of them (153) companies
  • China alone makes up the vast bulk of emissions covered by post-2050 commitments
target status in law & Policy

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • across all entities, the vast majority of targets are either proposed and aspirational, or in a policy or strategy document
  • seven nations and four cities have enshrined their commitments in law
  • 21 countries (17%) are net negative, while 44 companies (11%) have achieved their net zero targets
coverage of greenhouse gases & Scopes

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • across all entities, a significant fraction of targets (14% by number) do not specify CO2 only or all greenhouse gases
  • the remainder are split roughly equally between those covering all greenhouse gases and CO2 only or all greenhouse gases
  • only five countries include a share of international aviation and only four include shipping
  • the number of companies including emissions across all Scopes is 27% by number
  • the number of states and cities with targets covering both territorial and consumption emissions is 9% by number
Use of offsets

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • for all types of entity, the majority of commitments are unclear on whether they intend to use carbon offsets
  • very few entities explicitly rule out the use of offsets (one country, eight regions, 11 cities and 33 companies)
  • for those entities that indicate they will use offsets, only a few set conditions on their use (eight countries, 11 regions, 21 cities and 87 companies)
governance & REPORTING

Click here to enlarge the graph. 

 

  • regular reporting of progress is widespread for national targets, which was anticipated as this is part of nations’ commitments to the UN climate convention
  • 86 nations, 42 states and regions, 68 cities and 277 companies have a reporting mechanism
  • 25 nations, 41 states & regions, 65 cities and 210 companies have a published plan
  • 115 nations, 35 states & regions, 71 cities and 244 companies have set interim targets
  • across all entities, 10% by number explicitly took equity into account when setting their net zero targets.

News and Events

Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn’t
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn’t

By Myles Allen. Originally published on The Conversation, 15 June 2021. Featured image: /Getty The four-day G7 summit in Cornwall ended with little cause for celebration from anyone worried about climate change. Most of the pledges that emerged ... Read more

Carbon dioxide lasts for centuries – so should carbon offsets
Carbon dioxide lasts for centuries – so should carbon offsets

By Tim Kruger. Originally published on The Conversation, 4 June 2021. Featured image: Christian Roberts-Olsen/Shutterstock Carbon dioxide, once emitted into the atmosphere, stays there for hundreds of years. When someone uses an offset to ... Read more

Professor Myles Allen on BBC Radio on taking the ‘net’ in net zero seriously
Professor Myles Allen on BBC Radio on taking the ‘net’ in net zero seriously

Myles Allen argues it is irresponsible not to take the “net” in “net zero” seriously, because we need to stop climate change before the world stops using fossil fuels. Offsetting emissions with forestry or other nature-based solutions can help, ... Read more

The Race to Zero strengthens and clarifies campaign criteria with support of Oxford Net Zero
The Race to Zero strengthens and clarifies campaign criteria with support of Oxford Net Zero

Originally posted on the Race to Zero site by climate champions | APRIL 29, 2021 As net zero commitments proliferate, the refined criteria outline the minimum standard for initiatives of businesses, investors, cities, regions and universities ... Read more

Developing countries need to chart their own course to net zero emissions
Developing countries need to chart their own course to net zero emissions

By Navroz K. Dubash, Harald Winkler, and Lavanya Rajamani. Originally published on The Conversation, 5 May 2021. Translating complex climate science into language people understand has always been difficult. At various times, the aim of ... Read more

Oxford Net Zero to Co-host a Climate Neutrality Forum: Register Your Interest
Oxford Net Zero to Co-host a Climate Neutrality Forum: Register Your Interest

Bringing together leading researchers, policymakers and practitioners working on achieving climate neutrality, the meeting will take place simultaneously at three hubs – Berlin, Milan and Oxford – linked together to create a blended event that ... Read more

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