Half of global economy planning for net zero emissions

19th February 2020

Web globe istock 473454180

Related Topics

Related tags

  • sea ice loss ,
  • Global ,
  • Legislation ,
  • Policy


Caroline Dinnage

Nearly half of the world's GDP is now generated in areas where authorities have at least proposed a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has revealed.

The think tank's Net Zero online tracker shows that $39trn (£30trn) – around 49% of global GDP – derives from nations, regions and cities with an actual, or intended, net zero target.

This includes 121 countries in which a target is either under political discussion or has been declared, or where legislation is under development or been enacted. Two of the nations are already carbon-negative.

The findings represent a tripling in global ambition since last June when just one-sixth of the world's economy was covered by a net zero target.

“It shows how quickly policymakers are grasping the science, and in the case of cities and regions, deciding to act themselves when their national governments will not, said ECIU director Richard Black.

It's extraordinary that just 18 months on from the IPCC report that showed the scientific case for reaching global net zero emissions by 2050, nations, regions and cities representing virtually half of global GDP have set compatible goals.

Suriname and Bhutan are the two countries that have already achieved net zero emissions, while Sweden, the UK, France, Denmark and New Zealand have set a target in law.

The EU, Spain, Chile and Fiji have proposed legislation, while Norway, Uruguay, Finland, Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Costa Rica and the Marshal Islands have a target in a policy document.

Countries or regions with high annual GDP figures that have, or plan, a net zero target, include Germany ($3.7trn), California ($2.8trn), the UK ($2.6trn) and Tokyo ($1.9trn).

The findings come as the UK prepares to ramp up domestic action and international ambition before hosting the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

“Having so many nations, regions and states saying they want to move to net zero is a tremendous opportunity for the UK to lead a meaningful global effort on net zero,“ Black said.

“If it gets its own carbon-cutting on track to net zero well before the summit, the government and its new COP26 President Alok Sharma will be in a great position to launch something like a net-zero club of countries seriously embarking on a zero-carbon transformation.

This would add real value to the other elements that need to be delivered at the summit, such as enhancements to countries' carbon-cutting plans to 2030.

Image credit: ©iStock


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Weather damage insurance claims hit record high

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close