Guest blog: Get net zero right: A how-to guide


The UN High Level Champions and Oxford Net Zero have designed a toolkit to help us all better identify credible net zero commitments and those that miss the mark. By Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz 

Scientists have demonstrated that we must get our world to a state of net zero emissions as soon as possible (and by 2050 at the absolute latest) in order to limit the worst effects of climate change.

Net zero is defined by the IPCC, the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, as:

“When anthropogenic CO2 emissions are balanced globally by anthropogenic CO2 removals over a specified period.”

Simply put, at a global level we need to balance the amount of emissions we put into the atmosphere with the amount we take out.

What this means in practice — and how the term net zero has been used — has been subject to fierce debate and contention as it has grown in popularity over the last decade.

There has been a significant growth in the number of ‘net zero commitments’ made by companies, cities, regions, investors, and educational institutions — but not all commitments are made equal.

So how do we know that net zero commitments are going to meaningfully contribute towards halving global emissions by 2030 – and which miss the mark?

The UN High Level Champions and Oxford Net Zero have designed a toolkit to help us all understand what a credible net zero commitment looks like, and which commitments lack the substance needed to deliver a zero carbon world in time.

It includes insight into critical topics such as emissions scopes, offsetting, interim targets and immediate action plans.

In all things, actions speak louder than words — and so even institutions with credible climate commitments must be transparent and clearly demonstrate their immediate steps in to reach zero emissions as quickly as possible.

Unlike most races, the race to zero emissions won’t have one winner. In this race we all win, or we all lose. To view the toolkit, please click here.



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