Net zero


Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Achieving net zero involves reducing emissions as much as possible and offsetting any remaining emissions by supporting carbon reduction projects or using carbon capture technology.

Achieving net zero is essential in the fight against climate change. Governments, businesses and organisations of all sizes are starting to set and work towards net zero targets, and for some it is already a legal requirement. More than 70 countries, including the biggest polluters – China, the United States, and the European Union – have set a net-zero target.

Transitioning to a net-zero world is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Why should we care?

Scientific evidence clearly shows the urgency of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The planet has already experienced an increase of around 1.1°C since the late 1800s, and emissions are still on the rise. Achieving the target set in the Paris Agreement and capping global warming at 1.5°C requires a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Facts and figures

There’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now than at any time in human history

Based on current emissions, the world is likely to hit between 2.7C and 3.1C of warming by 2100

According to the United Nations, current national climate plans – for 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement taken together – would lead to a sizeable increase of almost 11% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels.

The Glasgow Climate Pact called on all countries to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022, but only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted by September 2022.

The top seven emitters (China, the United States of America, India, the European Union, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Brazil) accounted for about half of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.