More countries are commiting to net-zero emissions by 2050. The coalition is growing. But commitments must be backed by bold, credible actions. By every country in the world. Starting now. Net Zero #ItsPossible. Starting now! Starting now! Starting now!


For a livable climate:
Net-zero commitments must be backed by credible action

What is net zero?

Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance.

Why is net zero important?

The science shows clearly that in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a livable planet, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, the Earth is already about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions continue to rise. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C  – as called for in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

How can net zero be achieved?

Transitioning to a net-zero world is one of the greatest challenges humankind has faced. It calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about. The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions today and holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change. Replacing polluting coal, gas and oil-fired power with energy from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Is there a global effort to reach net zero?

Yes, a growing coalition of countries, cities, businesses and other institutions are pledging to get to net-zero emissions. More than 70 countries, including the biggest polluters – China, the United States, and the European Union – have set a net-zero target, covering about 76% of global emissions. Over 1,200 companies have put in place science-based targets in line with net zero, and more than 1000 cities, over 1000 educational institutions, and over 400 financial institutions have joined the Race to Zero, pledging to take rigorous, immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030.

How do we ensure commitments are turned into action?

The growth in net-zero pledges has been accompanied by a proliferation of criteria with varying levels of robustness. To develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities such as businesses, investors, cities and regions, and speed up their implementation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres in March 2022 established a High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. The Expert Group will make recommendations before the end of the year.

Are we on track to reach net zero by 2050?

No, commitments made by governments to date fall far short of what is required. Current national climate plans – for all 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement taken together – would lead to a sizable increase of almost 14% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Getting to net zero requires all governments – first and foremost the biggest emitters – to significantly strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and take bold, immediate steps towards reducing emissions now. The Glasgow Climate Pact called on all countries to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022, to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal.

Current national plans fall short of what is required

Most emissions come from just a few countries

  • 3%
    Contribution of the 100 least-emitting countries
  • 68%
    The 10 largest greenhouse gas emitters contribute over two-thirds of global emissions
  • 46%
    The top 3 greenhouse gas emitters contribute 16 times the emissions of the bottom 100 countries
Pie chart

Source: WRI - Figures are rounded.

At the COP 27 climate conference in Egypt, we need commitments that will deliver a reduction of emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 so we can reach net zero emissions by mid-century."

Secretary-General Portrait

Net-zero news

Portrait of Patricia Espinosa

Climate calls for a unity of purpose

Patricia Espinosa is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the foundational 1994 international agreement on climate action most recently elaborated in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In a make-or-break year for climate action, Espinosa reflects on the climate emergency, urging a unity of purpose. Since climate knows no boundaries, bold action is in the best interest of everyone. Learn more

photocomposition: the earth globe on the backgroung, a hand holding a pen signing a document on the front

All About the NDCs

An NDC is a climate action plan. How do NDCs work and why they are important? What's happening in different countries? Read up on the basics

Join the Race to Zero

Through this UN-backed campaign, companies, cities, financial and educational institutions and others are taking ambitious, immediate actions to halve global emissions by 2030. Find out more

The road to net zero

People group holding raised hands in celebration


196 countries adopted the historic Paris Agreement to reduce global warming and build resilience to climate change. Its overall goal: limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.