Sustainability, Climate Change and Net Zero

The key unifying global building blocks on the path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions are summarised as follows:

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2015)


There are 3 main pillars of sustainability which are all interdependent: environmental, economic and social. In 2015 the United Nations established 17 Sustainable Development Goals which form the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges faced, including: poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice.



UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2018)


In 2018 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a landmark report titled ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’. The report detailed the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The link for the reports headline statement is as follows:

Paris Agreement (2015)


The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris in 2015 and entered into force on 2016. The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts.


Legislation on Net Zero (2019)


Net zero refers to a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. There are two different routes to achieving net zero, which work in tandem: reducing existing emissions and actively removing greenhouse gases.


Many countries are starting to adopt Net Zero targets. In 2019 the UK parliament was one of the first to pass legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Doing so would make the UK a ‘net zero’ emitter.