This research reviews the actions being taken by some countries and regions, aspiring to leadership on tackling climate change, and how they are dealing with the challenges of meeting ambitious climate goals.

The analysis focuses on national greenhouse gas (GHG) targets, sectoral targets, legislation, the role of carbon trading and offsetting, and the achievability of targets in some European countries (EU and non-EU), Mexico and two US states.

Reflecting on the European case studies produced by ClimateXChange, the research also considers the common themes for success in setting ambitious and aspirational climate change policy.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Ambitious targets are being set by a range of countries across Europe (in and out of EU), and elsewhere. These include overall and sectoral GHG targets. States and regions are also raising the bar.
  • Targets vary according to starting point, political situation and culture.
  • The influence of international agreements and blocs, including the Paris Agreement and EU, have been critical to stimulating action. Despite this, countries and regions outside blocs (Norway and Mexico) have set and are meeting stretching targets, and regions (such as US states) are retained their commitments despite national policy vacuums.
  • Many targets are proving difficult to meet. This shouldn’t deter from high ambition. As the economic, business and social benefits become increasingly apparent, countries and regions which embark on decarbonisation pathways will save money in the long term, deliver a more resilient society to their citizens and show businesses the policy certainty they need to make long term investments in low and zero-carbon infrastructure.
  • A number of countries have stated the intention to trade international credits to meet their targets and have the legal flexibility to do so.
  • However, of concern, the EU has stated that meeting targets is dependent on the continued action of others.