Around 40% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) is now generated in nations, regions and cities that are committed to net zero greenhouse emission targets by 2050 — less than a year ago, only 16% of GDP was covered.

Analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a London-based think-tank, shows those authorities that have set, or are proposing to set a target, collectively generate over $34 trillion of global GDP. 

ECIU Director Richard Black adds a note of caution over the data saying that “for the most part these are as yet only aspirations,” but argues the level of commitment is encouraging.

“… it’s startling that little more than a year after science showed the rationale for reaching global net zero by 2050, national and local governments covering two-fifths of the world’s GDP have said publicly that their locality should step up.”

The list includes places with net zero targets at various levels of development. In some cases, the target is under active political discussion or leaders have made a political declaration. In other places, legislation is either under development or has been enacted. The list also includes the Kingdom of Bhutan which is already carbon-negative.

According to ECIU data, those places with high annual GDP figures that have or intend to set a net zero target include:

  • Germany ($3.7 tn), where Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050

  • California ($2.8 tn), where Governor Jerry Brown last year signed an executive order mandating carbon neutrality by 2045

  • The UK ($2.6 tn), where Parliament passed legislation in June this year mandating net zero by 2050

  • Tokyo ($1.9 tn), whose Metropolitan Government earlier this year declared it was targeting net zero in pursuance of the 1.5ºC Paris Agreement global warming target.

ECIU argues that last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which calls for a 1.5ºC cap on global warming by 2050, was a key driver for the recent rise in global commitment to net zero. Other organisations such as the Energy Transitions Commission and the UK’s Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering also agreed with the IPCC that the target can be achieved.

Last reviewed 12 December 2019