Working paper

The latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018) suggests that to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals, the world will need to reach net-zero GHG emissions early in the second half of the next century. At the global level, achieving net-zero emissions means balancing anthropogenic (human-induced) emissions and removals of GHGs in a given period. In practice, achieving net-zero emissions means reducing anthropogenic emissions – like those from fossil-fuelled emissions – as close to zero as possible while ramping up carbon removal to balance out any remaining emissions. These solutions could include restoring forests or direct air capture and storage technology.

This paper is a resource for countries that are designing and communicating net-zero targets. It summarises how countries have designed net-zero targets to date and discusses the pros and cons of different design choices. It recommends options for designing net-zero targets and communicating with domestic and international constituencies in accordance with the most recent climate science and pathways to limit average global temperature rise to below 2°C (3.6°F)—and, ideally, 1.5°C (2.7°F).

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