Measuring Progress towards Climate Neutrality – Part I

Assessing structural change through net zero indicators


Velten, Eike Karola; Isabel Haase, Nicolas Berghmans, Matthias Duwe and Nick Evans (2021): Measuring progress towards climate neutrality. Part I: Assessing structural change through net zero indicators. Ecologic Institute, Berlin / IDDRI, Paris

To achieve its goal of climate neutrality by 2050, the EU’s economy must undergo profound structural change. When determining where we are in this transition, the focus often lies on (sectoral) greenhouse gas emissions as well as energy consumption, and does not necessarily account for the complexity of the net-zero transition. To fill this gap, Ecologic Institute developed an assessment matrix based on net-zero indicators, which measures the progress towards ‘net-zero’ while taking into account the complexity of the required transition.  In the long haul, this tool could be used for the adjustments of existing policies – in case a course correction is needed to achieve the net zero goal.

The basis of our framework are eleven “net zero elements”. All of them are essential pieces of a vision for a climate neutral future, spanning the greenhouse gas emitting sectors as well as their underlying governmental, economic and cultural structures. For each net zero element, we determined objectives (where they currently exist) as well as important drivers (“enablers”) and corresponding indicators. To identify indicators that fit the different objectives and enablers, we reviewed a large range of databases and publications. Additionally, we complemented and cross-checked our analysis through discussions with thematic experts.

Our set of indicators can be integrated, for instance, in Long-Term Strategies or sector specific roadmaps. Also, it could be used to structure relevant monitoring and planning procedures, e.g. National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). How exactly the framework can be integrated and applied in EU policy processes is detailed in Part II of this report. Together, the two parts provide a joint approach for tracking the progress of Europe’s climate neutrality endeavors and consequently enhance administrative efficiency and real-world impact.  A summary can be found at:

We developed a framework with eleven net zero elements, each with a set of indicators to assess the progress towards climate neutrality.

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indicator, net zero, governance, EU LTS, EU Climate Law, Governance Regulation, climate governance, monitoring, scoreboard, progress tracker, European Green Deal
indicator development

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