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The time to talk about net zero goals is running out, and the time to put them into action is well underway.

At the U.S. Climate Summit in April 2021, U.S. President Biden pressured countries to either speed up carbon neutral pledges, or commit to them in the first place.

It’s a follow-up to the Paris Agreement, which keeps signatories committed to reaching carbon neutrality in emissions in the second half of the 21st century. But 2050–2100 is a wide timeframe, and climate change is becoming both increasingly present and more dire.

So when are countries committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions, and how serious is their pledge? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council highlights the world’s carbon neutral pledges.

The Timeline of Carbon Neutral Targets by Country

The first question is how quickly countries are trying to get to net zero.

137 countries have committed to carbon neutrality, as tracked by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit and confirmed by pledges to the Carbon Neutrality Coalition and recent policy statements by governments.

But the earlier the pledge, the better, and most of the commitments are centered around 2050.

Country Target Year
Bhutan Achieved
Suriname Achieved
Uruguay 2030
Finland 2035
Austria 2040
Iceland 2040
Germany 2045
Sweden 2045
Afghanistan 2050
Andorra 2050
Angola 2050
Antigua and Barbuda 2050
Argentina 2050
Armenia 2050
Bahamas 2050
Bangladesh 2050
Barbados 2050
Belgium 2050
Belize 2050
Benin 2050
Brazil 2050
Bulgaria 2050
Burkina Faso 2050
Burundi 2050
Cabo Verde 2050
Cambodia 2050
Canada 2050
Central African Republic 2050
Chad 2050
Chile 2050
Colombia 2050
Comoros 2050
Cook Islands 2050
Costa Rica 2050
Croatia 2050
Cyprus 2050
Czechia 2050
Democratic Republic of Congo 2050
Denmark 2050
Djibouti 2050
Dominica 2050
Dominican Republic 2050
Ecuador 2050
Eritrea 2050
Estonia 2050
Ethiopia 2050
European Union 2050
Fiji 2050
France 2050
Gambia 2050
Greece 2050
Grenada 2050
Guinea 2050
Guinea-Bissau 2050
Guyana 2050
Haiti 2050
Hungary 2050
Ireland 2050
Italy 2050
Jamaica 2050
Japan 2050
Kiribati 2050
Laos 2050
Latvia 2050
Lebanon 2050
Lesotho 2050
Liberia 2050
Lithuania 2050
Luxembourg 2050
Madagascar 2050
Malawi 2050
Maldives 2050
Mali 2050
Malta 2050
Marshall Islands 2050
Mauritania 2050
Mauritius 2050
Mexico 2050
Micronesia 2050
Monaco 2050
Mozambique 2050
Myanmar 2050
Namibia 2050
Nauru 2050
Nepal 2050
Netherlands 2050
New Zealand 2050
Nicaragua 2050
Niger 2050
Niue 2050
Norway 2050
Pakistan 2050
Palau 2050
Panama 2050
Papua New Guinea 2050
Paraguay 2050
Peru 2050
Portugal 2050
Romania 2050
Rwanda 2050
Saint Kitts and Nevis 2050
Saint Lucia 2050
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2050
Samoa 2050
Sao Tome and Principe 2050
Senegal 2050
Seychelles 2050
Sierra Leone 2050
Slovakia 2050
Slovenia 2050
Solomon Islands 2050
Somalia 2050
South Africa 2050
South Korea 2050
South Sudan 2050
Spain 2050
Sudan 2050
Switzerland 2050
Tanzania 2050
Timor-Leste 2050
Togo 2050
Tonga 2050
Trinidad and Tobago 2050
Tuvalu 2050
U.S. 2050
Uganda 2050
United Kingdom 2050
Uzbekistan 2050
Vanuatu 2050
Vatican City 2050
Yemen 2050
Zambia 2050
China 2060
Kazakhstan 2060
Ukraine 2060
Australia 2050 – 2100
Singapore 2050 – 2100

As far as early achievers go, Bhutan and Suriname are the only two countries that have achieved carbon neutrality and are actually carbon negative (removing more carbon than they emit). Uruguay’s 2030 target is the earliest to try and match that feat, followed by Europe’s Finland, Austria, Iceland, Germany, and Sweden, who are all targeting 2045 or earlier.

Over 90%, or 124 of the 137 countries tracked above, set a target of 2050 for reaching carbon neutrality. This is largely due to membership in the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, which asks member states to target 2050 for their goal but leaves commitment up to them.

Only five countries have net zero pledges set for after 2050, including Australia and Singapore, which haven’t set a firm target yet. Targeting 2060, in addition to Ukraine and Kazakhstan, is the world’s largest emitter, China. The country’s recent pledge is significant, since China accounts for an estimated 25% of global emissions.

In fact, according to the Climate Action Tracker, 73% of global emissions are currently covered by net zero targets.

How Seriously Are Countries Committing to Carbon Neutrality?

Setting a goal is perhaps the easiest step towards carbon neutrality. But the real challenge is in solidifying that goal and starting to make progress towards it. That’s why it’s important to consider how deeply committed each country’s carbon neutral pledge truly is.

The most rigid commitments are enshrined in law, followed by official government policy, though the latter can change alongside governments. Likewise, proposed legislation shows forward momentum in making pledges a reality, but proposals can take a long time to become enacted (or get derailed).

As it turns out, the vast majority of carbon neutral targets are only under discussion, with no formal action being taken to act on them.

Country Target Status
Bhutan Achieved
Suriname Achieved
Denmark Law
France Law
Hungary Law
New Zealand Law
Sweden Law
United Kingdom Law
Andorra Policy Document
Australia Policy Document
Austria Policy Document
Brazil Policy Document
China Policy Document
Costa Rica Policy Document
Finland Policy Document
Germany Policy Document
Iceland Policy Document
Ireland Policy Document
Japan Policy Document
Kazakhstan Policy Document
Marshall Islands Policy Document
Norway Policy Document
Panama Policy Document
Paraguay Policy Document
Portugal Policy Document
Slovenia Policy Document
South Africa Policy Document
Switzerland Policy Document
U.S. Policy Document
Ukraine Policy Document
Uzbekistan Policy Document
Vatican City Policy Document
Canada Proposed Legislation
Chile Proposed Legislation
European Union Proposed Legislation
Fiji Proposed Legislation
South Korea Proposed Legislation
Spain Proposed Legislation
Afghanistan Under Discussion
Angola Under Discussion
Antigua and Barbuda Under Discussion
Argentina Under Discussion
Armenia Under Discussion
Bahamas Under Discussion
Bangladesh Under Discussion
Barbados Under Discussion
Belgium Under Discussion
Belize Under Discussion
Benin Under Discussion
Bulgaria Under Discussion
Burkina Faso Under Discussion
Burundi Under Discussion
Cabo Verde Under Discussion
Cambodia Under Discussion
Central African Republic Under Discussion
Chad Under Discussion
Colombia Under Discussion
Comoros Under Discussion
Cook Islands Under Discussion
Croatia Under Discussion
Cyprus Under Discussion
Czechia Under Discussion
Democratic Republic of Congo Under Discussion
Djibouti Under Discussion
Dominica Under Discussion
Dominican Republic Under Discussion
Ecuador Under Discussion
Eritrea Under Discussion
Estonia Under Discussion
Ethiopia Under Discussion
Gambia Under Discussion
Greece Under Discussion
Grenada Under Discussion
Guinea Under Discussion
Guinea-Bissau Under Discussion
Guyana Under Discussion
Haiti Under Discussion
Italy Under Discussion
Jamaica Under Discussion
Kiribati Under Discussion
Laos Under Discussion
Latvia Under Discussion
Lebanon Under Discussion
Lesotho Under Discussion
Liberia Under Discussion
Lithuania Under Discussion
Luxembourg Under Discussion
Madagascar Under Discussion
Malawi Under Discussion
Maldives Under Discussion
Mali Under Discussion
Malta Under Discussion
Mauritania Under Discussion
Mauritius Under Discussion
Mexico Under Discussion
Micronesia Under Discussion
Monaco Under Discussion
Mozambique Under Discussion
Myanmar Under Discussion
Namibia Under Discussion
Nauru Under Discussion
Nepal Under Discussion
Netherlands Under Discussion
Nicaragua Under Discussion
Niger Under Discussion
Niue Under Discussion
Pakistan Under Discussion
Palau Under Discussion
Papua New Guinea Under Discussion
Peru Under Discussion
Romania Under Discussion
Rwanda Under Discussion
Saint Kitts and Nevis Under Discussion
Saint Lucia Under Discussion
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Under Discussion
Samoa Under Discussion
Sao Tome and Principe Under Discussion
Senegal Under Discussion
Seychelles Under Discussion
Sierra Leone Under Discussion
Singapore Under Discussion
Slovakia Under Discussion
Solomon Islands Under Discussion
Somalia Under Discussion
South Sudan Under Discussion
Sudan Under Discussion
Tanzania Under Discussion
Timor-Leste Under Discussion
Togo Under Discussion
Tonga Under Discussion
Trinidad and Tobago Under Discussion
Tuvalu Under Discussion
Uganda Under Discussion
Uruguay Under Discussion
Vanuatu Under Discussion
Yemen Under Discussion
Zambia Under Discussion

Uruguay’s 2030 target might be the earliest, but it is not yet set in stone. The earliest commitment actually enshrined in law is Sweden’s 2045 target.

Including Sweden, only six countries have passed their carbon neutral targets into law. They include Denmark, France, Hungary, New Zealand, and the UK.

An additional five countries have proposed legislation in the works, including Canada and South Korea, as well as the entirety of the EU.

Meanwhile, 24 countries have their climate targets set as official policy. They include Brazil, China, Germany and the U.S., some of the world’s largest emitters.

99 of the 137 pledges are only under discussion at this time, or more than 72%. That means that they have no official standing as of yet, and are harder to act on. But as time starts to pass, pressure on countries to act on their carbon neutral pledges is beginning to grow.

The National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.



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