climate change current affairs

Net zero commitments so far

I’ve written a bit about net zero commitments recently, as Britain has discussed and then passed a law to hit zero by 2050, thus ending its contribution to the climate crisis. It’s not the only country aiming for zero, and the Climate and Energy Intelligence Unit released a report (pdf) last week looking into the phenomenon.

Here’s their visual summary of the commitments so far, which is prettier than the bullet-pointed list I posted recently. It’s also happily out of date already, as Britain’s target is now in law.

This graphic isn’t comprehensive, because it doesn’t include countries that have stated ambitions without formalising them yet, such as Colombia or Ethiopia. Neither does it include regions, such as California or Scotland. Roll those in, and ECIU point out that a sixth of the global economy is now subject to net zero targets.

Of course, much like declaring a climate emergency, these can easily be political statements. It’s important that they are tied into law, which is what the colour coding above shows. It’s important that they don’t include huge exceptions (see Britain and aviation) or massive use of offsets (Norway). Not many countries have a plan for how to actually deliver something that could be beyond the lifetime of many current politicians, so that matters too.

Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between these kinds of commitments and the bad ones. Like Japan’s, which aims for zero emissions “at the earliest possible time in the latter half of this century.” That’s not something that citizens can hold the government accountable to, or that lends any urgency to emissions cuts. Or you could be holding out entirely, like Trump’s USA, a climate pariah alongside Saudi Arabia, and Iran in last week’s international talks.

However imperfect some of these targets may be, let’s use them to ratchet up ambitions. And let’s hope that there are more countries to add to this list in future.

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