For a livable climate:
Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action

What is Net-Zero? 

Net-Zero refers to achieving a balance between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced and those removed from the atmosphere. This can be achieved through emission reductions and offsets, like the absorption of carbon dioxide by forests and oceans. 

Why is Net-Zero important? 

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change and maintain a habitable planet, we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, the Earth is already roughly 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions continue to climb. To stay within the 1.5°C target outlined in the Paris Agreement, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach Net Zero by 2050. 

How can Net-Zero be achieved? 

Transitioning to Net-Zero demands a comprehensive transformation across various sectors. The energy sector, responsible for around 75% of GHG emissions, requires the shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources like wind and solar which would significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

Is there a global effort to reach Net-Zero? 

Yes, a growing coalition of countries, cities, businesses, and organizations are pledging net-zero targets. Over 140 countries, including major emitters like China, the US, India, and the EU, have set net-zero targets, covering roughly 88% of global emissions. Additionally, more than 9,000 companies, over 1,000 cities, more than 1,000 educational institutions, and over 600 financial institutions have joined the Race to Zero campaign, committing to take decisive and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030. 

How do we ensure commitments are turned into action? 

The surge in net-zero pledges has been accompanied by a proliferation of criteria with varying levels of rigor. To establish more robust and transparent standards for net-zero emissions pledges made by non-state actors like businesses, investors, cities, and regions, and accelerate their implementation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres established a High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. 

Are we on track to reach net-zero by 2050? 

Unfortunately, no. Existing government commitments fall significantly short of what’s required. Current national climate plans – encompassing 195 Parties to the Paris Agreement combined – would lead to a substantial increase of almost 9% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C – as stipulated in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach Net Zero by 2050. Achieving Net Zero necessitates all governments – primarily the biggest emitters – to significantly strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and take bold, immediate steps to reduce emissions now. 

Current national plans fall short of what is required

+ 0 %
Increase in global greenhouse gas emissions projected by 2030, compared to 2010, based on available national action plans
- 0 %
Reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions needed by 2030, from 2010 levels, to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees celsius

Most emissions come from just a few countries

The top five emitters (China, the United States of America, India, the European Union, the Russian Federation) accounted for about 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021.

The Group of 20 (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union) are responsible for about 76 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

By contrast, least developed countries account for about 3.8 per cent of global emissions, while small island developing States contribute less than 1 per cent.

Source: UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2023

Government or private sector commitments to Net-Zero
cannot be a mere public relations exercise."

ANTONIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, 8 November 2022


Net Zero Roadmap: A Global Pathway to Keep the 1.5 °C Goal in Reach

This comprehensive study explores transitioning to a clean energy system with renewables replacing fossil fuels, retrofitting buildings, and deploying carbon capture technologies.

Net Zero by 2050 - A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector

This report provides a scientific basis for informed decision-making, analyzing costs, risks, and opportunities associated with different mitigation approaches.

Creating a Climate-Positive World: The Road to Net-Zero Emissions

This report showcases practical steps and policy recommendations for achieving net-zero emissions globally, prioritizing vulnerable communities and environmental protection.

Emissions Gap Report 2023

Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again) finds that the world is heading for a temperature rise far above the Paris Agreement goals unless countries deliver more than they have promised.


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