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The growing list of countries committing to a net-zero emissions goal

Reuters/Paulo Whitaker
The only goal that matters.
  • Akshat Rathi
By Akshat Rathi

Senior reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

After decades of work, scientists have finally agreed on a (relatively) simple answer to the climate crisis: Achieve net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions as soon as economically possible. The only thing that drives global warming is the total amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. (The “net-zero” part is that, in cases like air travel, we won’t have the technology to stop emitting; in those cases, we’ll need to build sinks to capture those emissions.)

This simple message was amplified in 2015, after every country in the world signed the Paris climate agreement. Since then, many large and small countries have committed to adopting a net-zero emissions goal.

Here’s the running list of such countries, with help from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. We will update the list as more countries are added or their goal status changes.

CountryTarget dateGoal status
SurinameAchievedAlready carbon negative
BhutanAchievedAlready carbon negative
Sweden2045In law
Scotland2045In law
UK2050In law
France2050In law
Chile2050Proposed legislation
New Zealand2050Proposed legislation
Fiji2050Proposed legislation
Norway2030In policy document
Uruguay2030In policy document
Finland2035In policy document
Iceland2040In policy document
Denmark2050In policy document
Portugal2050In policy document
Switzerland2050In policy document
Costa Rica2050In policy document
Marshall Islands2050In policy document
European Union2050Target under discussion
Germany2050Target under discussion
Netherlands2050Target under discussion
Spain2050Target under discussion
Italy2050Target under discussion
Mexico2050Target under discussion
Argentina2050Target under discussion
Belgium2050Target under discussion
Austria2050Target under discussion
Ireland2050Target under discussion
Ethiopia2050Target under discussion
Luxembourg2050Target under discussion
Lebanon2050Target under discussion
Estonia2050Target under discussion
Trinidad and Tobago2050Target under discussion
Papua New Guinea2050Target under discussion
South Sudan2050Target under discussion
Barbados2050Target under discussion
Jamaica2050Target under discussion
Nicaragua2050Target under discussion
Namibia2050Target under discussion
Bahamas2050Target under discussion
Benin2050Target under discussion
Monaco2050Target under discussion
Mauritania2050Target under discussion
Maldives2050Target under discussion
Guyana2050Target under discussion
East Timor2050Target under discussion
Belize2050Target under discussion
Cape Verde2050Target under discussion
Saint Lucia2050Target under discussion
Antigua and Barbuda2050Target under discussion
Seychelles2050Target under discussion
Solomon Islands2050Target under discussion
Grenada2050Target under discussion
Saint Kitts and Nevis2050Target under discussion
Vanuatu2050Target under discussion
Samoa2050Target under discussion
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines2050Target under discussion
Comoros2050Target under discussion
Dominica2050Target under discussion
Tonga2050Target under discussion
Micronesia2050Target under discussion
Palau2050Target under discussion
Kirbati2050Target under discussion
Cook Islands2050Target under discussion
Nauru2050Target under discussion
Dominican Republic2050Target under discussion
Tuvalu2050Target under discussion

Updated: Sept. 30, 2019

Notable absences on that list: The United States, Australia, and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Despite those missing commitments, some smaller economies within those countries and others have set themselves a net-zero emissions goal. At the state level, that group includes California, New York, and Hawaii in the US; and New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland in Australia. At the city level, it includes New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Boston, Stockholm, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Austin, Melbourne, Helsinki, Manchester, Oslo, Nottingham, Adelaide, Bristol, Heidelberg, and Reykjavik.

The sum total of all these economies accounts for more than 17% of the global GDP. There’s still a long way to go to align 100% of global GDP with this goal, and committing to a goal does not mean countries or regions will achieve it. But it’s a stronger climate-mitigation stance than setting no goals at all.

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