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6 European countries are the clear leaders

In the 1st NZRI (Net Zero Readiness Index)

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What is NZRI?

Comparing the progress of 32 countries in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions



Author: Richard Threlfall, Global Head of KPMG IMPACT and Global Head of Infrastructure

The Net Zero Readiness Index (NZRI) is a tool that compares the progress of 32 countries in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and assesses their preparedness and ability to achieve Net Zero by 2050

Six European countries are the clear leaders in the first NZRI. Each of these countries has already significantly cut emissions and each has announced a net zero target date. They are exploring innovative ways to meet their goals, but all have significant challenges to solve. Click on each country below to read more.

#6 France

France's government has innovated in trying to develop policies to tackle climate change



France's government has innovated in trying to develop policies to tackle climate change, contributing to its third place on policies and enabling environment, including a citizens' convention of 150 randomly chosen adults that met in 2019-20, although only a minority of their proposals have become law.

The country's extensive use of nuclear energy as well as renewables including offshore wind means 91 percent of electricity is already from low carbon sources.

However, the country has seen strong opposition to increased vehicle fuel taxes from the suburban and rural gilets jaunes protest movement, which see such taxes as an attack on them by urban elites.

France's large agricultural sector and its control of the second-largest area of ocean worldwide through its overseas territories gives it responsibilities to protect carbon sinks, such as through further development of the carbon offset market.

#5 Germany

The popularity of Germany's Green party has contributed to most parties adopting strong environmental positions



The popularity of Germany's Green party has contributed to most parties adopting strong environmental positions, with much progress already made on decarbonization and ambitious targets for the next few years.

The government supports electric vehicle ownership and charging legislation and the country's industrial companies are researching ways to decarbonize including use of green hydrogen to make steel, contributing to the NZRI rating Germany third on the transport sector and fourth on industry.

However, the country's decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan means electricity production from coal will have to continue for longer to plug a resulting energy gap.

The fact that Germany has only a northern coastline means that offshore wind generation will require strengthened electricity grids to enable distribution to the middle and south of the country.

#4 Denmark

Denmark has an annual parliamentary vote on climate strategy...



Denmark has an annual parliamentary vote on climate strategy, introduced following a national petition, and since hosting the 2009 Copenhagen climate change summit it has carried out `climate diplomacy' including support for poorer countries to decarbonize, contributing to its fourth place on national preparedness.

Most electricity is already produced from renewable sources and the country is planning an artificial `energy island' in the North Sea to generate offshore wind, helping it to lead the electricity and heat sector.

But the country has large pork and dairy sectors which contribute to agriculture, land use and forestry generating almost a quarter of its greenhouse gases.

It also imports emissions from overseas goods, including agricultural produce and items that may support deforestation.

#3 Sweden

In 2017, Sweden became the first country to set a legally-binding Net Zero target



In 2017, Sweden became the first country to set a legally-binding Net Zero target with government, industry and many people committed.

It is ranked second for national preparedness in the NZRI and tops the category on drivers of national emissions.

The country is also is rated first for its buildings sector, with new construction in the country increasingly using wood and a focus on buildings' energy efficiency.

It aims to make its transport sector, which is rated second in the NZRI, free of fossil fuels by 2030.

Although some Swedish private sector organizations lead the world in their efforts to decarbonize, other companies are moving more slowly.
Previous experience, such as in getting drivers to adopt biofuels, suggests incentives and price signals may be needed to change individual behavior.

#2 United Kingdom

The UK enjoys political consensus on climate change and a clear policy framework



The UK enjoys political consensus on climate change and a clear policy framework including an independent Committee on Climate Change which has been adapted by countries including New Zealand, contributing to it leading the NZRI's rating of national preparedness.

Its power sector is largely decarbonized with coal generation planned to end in 2024 and the proportion of renewable energy used in electricity production topping 40 percent in 2020, supporting the country's second place on electricity and heat.

However, millions of British homes will need replacements for gas-fired boilers and better insulation to decarbonize and the government has yet to publish a firm plan to achieve this.

More broadly, politicians have not yet engaged with citizens about lifestyle changes that Net Zero is likely to require, including moving to electric vehicles, flying less and eating less meat.

#1 Norway

Exports electricity to neighboring countries & world leader in adopting electric vehicles



Norway is a major renewable generator that exports electricity to neighboring countries and is about to link itself to the UK through the world's longest undersea electricity cable.

It is also a world leader in adopting electric vehicles, as a result of tax incentives and a ban on sale of combustion engines.

It leads on policies and enabling environment, the overall NZRI sector score and the transport sector, and is second on industry.

But the country continues to benefit economically from oil and gas exports and faces questions over whether it should seek to decarbonize this extraction or look to end it completely.

Broader environmental concerns may limit growth in renewable electricity, with wind turbines threatening to disrupt wildlife and reindeer husbandry and in some cases disturb marshlands and wetlands, releasing greenhouse gas methane.

More NZRI Countries

Find out the top-performing 25 countries and the 6 countries to watch



Six European countries are the clear leaders in the first NZRI. Each of these countries has already significantly cut emissions and each has announced a net zero target date.

They are exploring innovative ways to meet their goals, but all have significant challenges to solve. Click on each country below to read more.

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