The Oxford Martin Programme on

Net Zero Regulation and Policy

The Challenge

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change almost all the world’s governments have committed to limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C based on pre-industrial levels under the Paris Agreement. To do that we collectively need to reach net zero emissions globally by 2050. Countries with net zero targets now represent 88% of global emissions, 92% of global Gross Domestic Product and 89% of the global population.

However, the Paris Agreement is not prescriptive, signatories can define their own routes, pathways and nationally determined contribution to global net zero. As a result, governments and other regulators are taking very different approaches to creating rules around net zero. These are as varied as mandatory financial disclosures, risk management requirements, rules around companies’ net zero plans, procurement, competition law, and what claims companies can make in marketing materials. In addition, this patchwork of governance is overlaid with a number of voluntary governance measures led by NGOs and other organisations.

Rigorous and cohesive net zero rules are needed to create economic certainty around net zero, shield the moral and ethical imperative of combatting climate change from shifting political sands, and level the playing field between countries.

Creating a world where alignment to net zero is woven through all rules governing the economy represents an unprecedented challenge for society. To get there, the piecemeal governance system around net zero needs to be strengthened at speed and scale.

The Oxford Martin Programme on Net Zero Regulation and Policy will bring together insights from law and political economy to understand best practice approaches to net zero regulation and support its implementation around the world. It will do so in a way that is supported by climate science, finance, ethics, and economics.

The team will create a real-time, open-access mapping of net zero regulations around the world with tools to understand how each piece of regulation compares to other countries and to best practice for achieving net zero. This Net Zero Regulation Tracker will not only give a picture of the current net zero regulation space but will also be an essential tool in understanding the impact of these cumulative regulations and where inconsistencies and oversights are undermining the global effort to reach net zero.

Once the team understands the shortcomings of current net zero regulation and the interactions between different rules, they can begin to evaluate and develop the academic underpinnings of a global regulatory system fit to deliver the ambition of the Paris Agreement.