PARIS, September 8, 2021 – In the run-up to the climate pre-COP on September 30 in Milan,
researchers from 26 countries and 3 sectors are publishing an original analysis of world
progress made towards deep decarbonization since the 2015 Paris Agreement, looking at
multiple dimensions of progress beyond immediate emission levels. Coordinated by
France’s Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), this farreaching
research also extracts 10 key common markers of decarbonization maturity,
intended to provide decision-makers with a clear benchmark for policy planning and
international cooperation agenda setting, and ultimately help close the global climate ambition
and action gaps.
The 29 science teams cooperating on this research present trends and progress on key
enablers that can activate transitions and make structural transformations possible. They show
how this granular and bottom-up approach can help identify previously hidden conditions for
increasing ambition and sharing best practices.
“This report is meant to make country-specific insider information accessible internationally, in
order to collectively design new solutions for increased climate ambition. One way to
accelerate the transition is to apply lessons learned from how countries and sectors’
decarbonization approaches have evolved since 2015, and to identify the social, technical,
economic, political or governance obstacles that need to be overcome to go further.” explains
Marta Torres Gunfaus, from IDDRI, one of the coordinators of the report.
Professor Chukwumerije Okereke, author of the report’s Nigeria chapter, adds “It is vital that
Africans are given a greater opportunity to tell their stories regarding the impact of climate
change on their societies, their effort to tackle the challenge, and the support they need from
the rest of the world to cope."
Emily Hosek, from the SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport, and
author of the Transport chapter, says: “this report is an invaluable resource for anyone trying
to understand what’s really happening beyond the numbers – from major areas of climate
progress and remaining barriers to the systemic changes required today to reach net-zero
emissions by mid-century in select countries and key sectors.”
For example, one of the key lessons that emerge from the report is how countries’
climate policies and institutions have been reshaped by the Paris Agreement ‘carbon
neutrality countdown’ approach. This new reference framework for climate policies has
already created transformational policies and governance mutations in many countries and
sectors worldwide. However, institutions, governance mechanisms, and concrete action plans
still need to adapt further, if we are to align the ambition of short-term planning with the longerterm
goal of carbon neutrality. Existing decarbonization strategies from public and business
actors largely remain insufficiently detailed, ambitious and actionable. Because of this, they
often fail to capture the full set of opportunities and constraints of carbon neutrality for specific
actors, and they do not fully address the interplays with key socio-economic dimensions.
“Some criticize net-zero commitments as a way to delay immediate action, but this approach
illustrates what achieving net zero really means. Not just in 2050, but today, by showing the
different paths countries need to be on. This is critical for achieving the goals of the Paris
Agreement and keeping 1.5°C in reach” says Emmanuel Guérin, Executive Director for the
International Group at the European Climate Foundation
Another conclusion of the report is that, in addition to rising public awareness of climate
change, comprehensive and open societal debates have emerged in several countries
on how to achieve rapid, broad, and far-reaching transformations implied by carbon
neutrality. These societal debates are crucial as they can help societies arbitrate between the
different pathways to carbon neutrality, with their differential impacts on different social groups.
International cooperation and capacity-building should also help generalize these debates
across geographies in order to enable national conversations to develop in a structured, open,
and useful manner.
Structure of the report
This report entitled Climate ambition beyond emission numbers: taking stock of progress by
looking inside countries and sectors has been coordinated by IDDRI in collaboration with more
than 70 experts across the world. It can be found at: https://www.iddri.org/en/publications-andevents/
The core of the report is made of 26 country chapters and 3 sectoral chapters. The country
chapters describe the recent evolutions of domestic discourses on climate ambition, national
climate policy, national governance and concrete policies and actions. The sectoral chapters
cover Transport, Industry and Agriculture, Forest and Other Land-Use respectively. These
sectors are commonly considered as ‘hard-to-abate’, i.e. those where techno-economic
solutions compatible with carbon neutrality are less clearly identified. These chapters analyse
recent trends and reveal the main barriers to overcome in the short term to support rapid and
A “summary for decision-makers” is also included. It presents 10 cross-cutting messages
emerging from the country and sector analysis, as a guide to the selection of priorities for
collective action in the post-COP26 period.
Key carbon transition maturity markers
1. Updated climate policies and institutions that reflect the Paris Agreement ‘carbon
neutrality countdown’ approach.
2. Comprehensive and open societal debate on how to achieve deep decarbonization of
the economy, and on how to navigate the associated political trade-offs.
3. Adapted narratives, institutions, governance mechanisms, and concrete action plans
to guide the short-term transition towards carbon neutrality. Expanded (ie detailed,
ambitious and actionable) decarbonization strategies from public and business actors.
Clear and comprehensive identification of opportunities and constraints associated with
carbon neutrality for key actors, and plans to address the interplays with key socioeconomic
4. Structured processes dedicated to mutual learning and sharing of best practices
between actors from different countries and sectors as critical enablers for increased
5. National and sectoral strategies to incorporate the level of detail required to inform and
accelerate international cooperative approaches that fit diverse local needs.
6. Financial flows aligned with the differentials in resources and needs of both countries
and sectors, achieved through: substantial additional resources; consistency with
Paris-compatible taxonomies; innovative finance mechanisms; scaled-up engagement
of the private sector in the net-zero transition; and institutions, processes and
7. Coherent packages of policies towards the diffusion at scale of decarbonization
technologies and the preparation of the related infrastructural and social conditions.
8. In the Agriculture, Forest and Other Land Use sector (AFOLU): mapping of the specific
transition challenges that arise from the sectors’ essential social imperatives of food
provision, biodiversity conservation and poverty eradication; plans to address the
political and institutional barriers that hinder decision-makers’ ability to transform the
AFOLU sector; plans to strengthen domestic coordination and international
cooperation among AFOLU actors.
9. In the heavy industry sector: mapping of the shifts in national-level and global industrial
and trade policies that upstream industrial firms needs, in order to complete their
uptake of existing greener technologies; adoption of those shifts.
10. In the transport sector: enhanced concerted policies and actions by local and national
governments and the private sector.