EGU21-10425, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Towards high-quality net-zero targets

Joeri Rogelj1,2, Andy Reisinger3, Annette Cowie4, and Oliver Geden5
Joeri Rogelj et al.
  • 1Imperial College London, Grantham Institute, Centre for Environmental Policy, London, UK
  • 2International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA, Austria
  • 3Ministry for the Environment, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 4NSW Department of Primary Industries/University of New England, Armidale, Australia.
  • 5German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Germany

With the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 the world has decided that warming should be kept well below 2°C while pursuing a limit of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. The Paris Agreement also sets a net emissions reduction goal: in the second half of the century, the balance of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removals should become net zero. Since 2018, in response to the publication of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, a flurry of net zero target announcements has ensued. Many countries, cities, regions, companies, or other organisations have come forward with targets to reach net zero, or become carbon or climate neutral. These labels describe a wide variety of targets, and rarely detailed. Lack of transparency renders it impossible to understand their ultimate contribution towards the global goal. Here we present a set of key criteria that high-quality net zero targets should address. These nine criteria cover emissions, removals, timing, fairness and a long-term vision. Unless net zero targets provide clarity on these nine criteria, we may not know until it is too late whether the collective promise of net zero targets is adequate to meet the global goal of the Paris Agreement.

How to cite: Rogelj, J., Reisinger, A., Cowie, A., and Geden, O.: Towards high-quality net-zero targets, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10425,, 2021.

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