World moving to net zero emissions

| 18th February 2020
Wind farm

Mulan is located approximately 170km north east of Harbin City in Heilongiang, China's northenmost province.

Nearly half of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is now generated in places where authorities have set or are proposing to set a net zero emissions target.


Just over $39 trillion (US dollars) - about 49 percent of the world’s annual GDP - derives from the 121 nations, regions and cities with an actual or intended net zero target, a new analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has shown. 

The data comes from ECIU’s Net Zero online tracker and is released as the UK prepares to ramp up domestic action and international ambition before hosting the crucial UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

The figure represents a tripling of global net zero ambition in the eight months since ECIU launched its tracker.


The list includes places with net zero targets at various levels of development: where the target is under active political discussion, where leaders have made a political declaration, where legislation is under development and where it has been enacted – and from two countries that are already carbon-negative.

ECIU Director Richard Black said: “It's extraordinary that just eighteen 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. 

"The majority of these targets are just targets - but still, 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."

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN organisation that collates and analyses climate science for governments, showed that in order to have a 50 percent chance of keeping global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5ºC, global carbon emissions need to reach net zero by 2050.

The IPCC report also found that the target can be achieved; and a number of other reports from bodies such as the Energy Transitions Commission and the UK’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering have reached the same conclusion.


Black continued: “Having so many nations, regions and states saying they want to move to net zero is a tremendous opportunity for the UK, as host of this year’s pivotal UN climate summit, to lead a meaningful global effort on net zero. 

“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."

This Article 

This article is based on a press release from ECIU. 

More from this author


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here