The Net Zero Readiness Report (NZRR) examines steps taken by 24 countries as well as key economic sectors to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It also discusses their preparedness and ability to achieve net zero emissions of these gases by 2050.
The 2050 target date was proposed by a 2018 report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC), which said that cutting net emissions by about 45 percent from 2010 to 2030 then 100 percent by 2050 would limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It added that doing this would lessen the still-substantial damage that global warming will cause over the coming decades.1
Humanity has already caused warming of approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius. In a report published in March 2023, UN IPCC said that the “pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change”. Keeping warming to 1.5 degrees will require “deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors”. Global emissions should already be falling and will need to drop by nearly 50 percent by 2030 to achieve this. While total global emissions fell in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they rebounded in 2021 to about the same level as in 2019. Figures for carbon dioxide only in 2022 suggest the year may have seen a record level of emissions.3
Carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, is released when fossil fuels are burnt and work towards net zero is often called ‘decarbonization’ to reflect this. Carbon dioxide generated 74 percent of human-caused climate change in 2016. Emissions of methane, which contributed 17 percent, and nitrous oxide’s 6 percent are also included in the data used in this report.4
The NZRR uses the World Resources Institute definition of net zero. Primarily, this involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans as close as possible to zero. Remaining emissions are balanced by an equivalent amount of carbon removal from the atmosphere, effectively neutralizing humanity’s future impact on the world’s climate.5
About the NZRR
This report is based on interviews with KPMG national climate change specialists in 24 countries as well as global KPMG experts in a range of economic sectors. As well as providing specific insights on countries and sectors, the report identifies insights that are critical to understanding and overcoming the challenges of the transition to net zero at a global level.
The national profiles include graphs showing how much sectors contribute to national greenhouse gas emissions and how much these emissions changed between 2005 and 2022, both by sector and across the economy. The national and sector emissions data comes from the European Commission’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).6
They are mapped to the following EDGAR sectors, which are based on UN IPCC greenhouse gas emissions categories: energy excluding electricity (fuels sector); electricity; transport; buildings (small-scale non-industrial combustion); industry (industrial combustion and industrial processes); agriculture (livestock, agricultural soils and burning of crop residues); and waste.7 Emissions data for France also includes data for Monaco, while the data for Spain alsoincludes Andorra and Switzerland’s also includes data for Liechtenstein.
The graphs on changes in emissions intensity are produced using national gross domestic product for the economy overall and for the transport, buildings and waste sectors. Emissions intensity data for agriculture and industry is based on the national outputs of those specific sectors. Emissions intensity for energy except electricity is derived from kilograms of carbon dioxide or equivalent per gigajoule of energy produced and for electricity from kilograms of carbon dioxide or equivalent per kilowatt hour. The graphs exclude sectors that occupy small shares of respective national emissions inventories. This threshold has been considered as 3%. In addition, intensities for the fuels sector are excluded for countries that do not produce significant amounts of fossil fuels. Ultimately countries can only progress towards net zero by cutting their absolute emissions but emissions intensity is included to recognize progress on decarbonization of processes, particularly in fast-growing economies.
The following abbreviations are used throughout the text: CO2 (carbon dioxide); ESG (environmental, social and governance); GDP (gross domestic product); GW (gigawatt); and ktCO2e, MtCO2e or GtCO2e kilotonnes, (megatonnes or gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, used to measure total greenhouse gas emissions with scaling based on impact over a century for gases other than carbon dioxide). US dollar equivalents for other currencies are correct as of October 2023.
1 'Global warming of 1.5°C: summary for policymakers', Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, October 2018. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Headline-statements.pdf
2 'Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all', Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 20 March 2023. https://www.ipcc.ch/2023/03/20/press-release-ar6-synthesis-report/
3 'CO2 emissions in 2022', International Energy Agency, March 2023. https://www.iea.org/reports/co2-emissions-in-2022
4 Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, 'By gas: how much does each contribute to total greenhouse gas emissions?', Our World in Data, 10 June 2020. https://ourworldindata.org/greenhouse-gas-emissions#by-gas-how-much-does-each-contribute-to-total-greenhouse-gas-emissions
5 Kelly Levin, Taryn Fransen, Clea Schumer, Chantal Davis and Sophie Boehm, ‘What does ‘net zero emissions’ mean? 8 common questions, answered’, World Resources Institute, updated March 2023. https://www.wri.org/insights/net-zero-ghg-emissions-questions-answered
6 ‘EDGAR — Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research’, European Commission Directorate-General for Joint Research Centre. https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/
7 Table 3 on p29, ‘GHG emissions of all world countries 2023’, European Commission Directorate-General for Joint Research Centre. https://edgar.jrc.ec.europa.eu/booklet/GHG_emissions_of_all_world_countries_booklet_2023report.pdf