Accelerating Net Zero

Exploring Cities, Regions, and Companies’ Pledges to Decarbonise By Climate Champions, Data-Driven EnviroLab & NewClimate Institute | October 21, 2020

The number of net-zero pledges has roughly doubled in less than a year, reveals new report from Data-Driven EnviroLab & NewClimate Institute. Launched at the opening of New York Climate Action Week, the report found that the shift towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions pathways is accelerating as many prioritize climate action in their recovery from Covid-19.

Cities and regions with a carbon footprint greater than the emissions of the US are now pursuing net zero emissions by the end of the century. 1,541 companies have also made net-zero emissions targets, representing a combined revenue of over $11.4 trillion (equivalent to more than half of the US GDP) and covering 3.5 gigatonnes in GHG emissions. These actors have pledged to fully decarbonising their emissions footprints, adopted specific net-zero targets in sectors like transport, buildings or energy, or signed onto initiatives which articulate net-zero goals.

Some actors are going even further than net-zero emissions within their direct emission scopes, and targeting supply-chain or down-stream consumption-based emissions. Even in sectors traditionally considered hard to abate, some actors are setting ambitious targets. Although only seven companies from the energy sector have set net-zero targets, those that did set aggressive target years — the energy sector has the earliest median target year, at 2025. The majority of these actors are part of the UN Race to Zero campaign aiming for a zero-carbon economy by 2050.

Subnational governments on every continent are making net-zero targets, and momentum is especially strong in certain regions. Europe is the region with the greatest number of subnational governments — 291 cities and 38 regions – making net-zero pledges. These participating cities and regions cover more than 162 million people, more than 36 percent of the EU’s total population. They are followed closely by Latin America with 209 cities and 5 regions, and then East Asia and Pacific with 164 cities and 31 regions making net-zero pledges, representing over 223 million people, more than 10 percent of this region’s total population.

In sum, the findings show the growing momentum towards zero carbon, while revealing areas where there is the potential to scale up and accelerate crucial action in the coming decades. Leaders of regions, cities, businesses, investment funds and universities are sending a clear message to national leaders: that they are ready to act decisively and build our zero-carbon future.

Peaks in the interest in “net-zero emissions” from Sept 2015 to August 2020 align with key climate-related events to galvanise climate ambition. Data source: Google Trends.


You can read the full report here.


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