Currently meeting in Egypt, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, is discussing how to address climate change and mitigate its consequences. One of the actions highlighted by the conference is the Race to Zero global campaign aimed at promoting varied net-zero carbon emission initiatives. The United Nations describes net zero as an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible. Many countries made a commitment to achieve this goal by the year 2050 or even earlier. In a recent study, the Law Library of Congress researched which countries have enacted or proposed net zero emissions legislation, what are the legislatively established target dates, and how the legislation changed during the last year.
Our research identified 57 jurisdictions around the world with climate neutrality goals stated by national laws. These include the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states, where a June 2021 regulation sets 2050 as the target date for climate neutrality. Eleven EU member states have passed their own legislation in addition to the directly applicable regulation. Four jurisdictions have set an earlier target date of 2045. Germany and Scotland plan to achieve full climate neutrality by that date, while the laws of Gibraltar and Sweden provide for a significant reduction (85 to 100 percent) of carbon emissions from the 1990 baseline. Even a more ambitious goal is stated in the Climate Emergency Act of Maldives. This law of 2021 requires the country to have net zero emissions by 2030. The United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Russia enacted laws at the national and state levels introducing regional goals for reaching carbon neutrality.
The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 reports, current and historical, authored by the Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.
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