Think tank argues appetite for net zero targets is a huge opportunity in the run up to the COP26 Summit in Glasgow / Credit: Mario Guti
ECIU analysis highlights how a significant chunk of the global economy is already subject to existing or planned net zero emissions targets
Two-fifths of the global economy is covered by existing or intended net zero emissions targets, according to a new analysis by Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) think tank.
An update to the ECIU’s Net Zero online tracker yesterday confirmed that just over $34tr of economic activity, or about 40 per cent of the world’s annual GDP, derives from nations, regions, and cities with an actual or planned net zero target.
The list includes all jurisdictions with net zero targets at various levels of development: where the target is under active political discussion, where leaders have made a political declaration in support of net zero, where legislation is under development, and where it has been enacted. It also includes Ttwo countries – Suriname and Bhutan – that are already ‘carbon-negative’.
The list includes a raft of leading markets that have net zero legislation or intend to have a net zero emission target in place within the next few years.
For example, Germany, with annual GDP of $3.7tr, has seen its government announce it intends to hit net zero by 2050. Meanwhile, the UK and France have passed net zero legislation, California – one of the world’s largest economies with $2.8tr of GDP – has a net zero emission goal mandated for 2045, and Tokyo’s city government has declared its intention to target net zero earlier this year.
The ECIU update also came on the same day as the European Commission published its much anticipated European Green Deal, reiterating its plan to deliver a net zero by 2050 target for the world’s largest single market.
Richard Black, director at ECIU, acknowledged that the majority of cities, regions, and countries discussing net zero goals do not yet have either a legally-binding commitment or a mechanism to achieve the target in place.
But he argued that support for such targets was building fast and was sending a valuable signal to businesses and investors.
“It’s startling that little more than a year after science showed the rationale for reaching global net zero by 2050, national and local governments covering two-fifths of the world’s GDP have said publicly that their locality should step up,” Black said.
Scientists on UN’s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set out the rationale for keeping global warming to 1.5C above industrial levels by cutting global carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 in a landmark report in October 2018.
The report has triggered a wave of more ambitious emissions targets from both governments and business alike. Yesterday also saw an update from the Science Based Targets Initiative on the sidelines of the COP25 Summit in Madrid, as the group confirmed 177 corporates have now promised to set emissions reductions targets in line with a 1.5C warming trajectory.
The growing appetite for net zero strategies presented a huge opportunity for the UK, as host of next year’s UN climate summit, to lead a meaningful global effort on net zero, Black argued.
“Merely touting its national target as showing ‘climate leadership’ won’t win ministers any plaudits in 2020,” he predicted. “However, if the UK can work with a significant number of countries and regions to turn their net zero aspirations into concrete plans with means of delivery attached, including enhanced 2030 targets, using the Climate Change Act and net zero methodology as a basis, that will be a material step forwards to delivering a real outcome at the Glasgow Climate Summit.”