Half of global economy planning for net zero emissions

19th February 2020


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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


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