11.1 Net-zero reports around the world


The announcement of a net-zero target for Canada was made in an international context where such targets are increasingly discussed. Since the signature of the Paris Agreement, a number of countries (Canada, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary) have introduced net-zero targets, some of which have already been enshrined into law, while others (the European Union, South Korea, Spain, and Fiji) view them as proposals for the time being. All proposals so far use the 2050 horizon, except for Sweden who uses 2045.

While a long list of reports with net-zero scenarios has been completed over the past few years, we choose to focus on a shorter set of four net-zero reports that provides rich information that can be compared with the results of this Outlook, while keeping the discussion within reasonable space. The list below was built because of the level of detail provided in the modelling for each of these reports and to ensure a reasonable geographical coverage. While this coverage is limited to North America and Europe, it should be noted that these regions include Canada’s main trading partners, both in terms of energy goods and technologies, and more generally across all sectors. This relates to the second objective of this chapter as outlined above, that is, determining what the rest of the world is likely to do from a technological perspective to reach net-zero emissions, to inform Canada’s own thinking about the technological paths it may consider. 

The list of reports is as follows:

  1. UK – The United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change’s “Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming” (UKCCC 2019)
  2. US – Princeton University’s “Net-Zero America: Potential pathways, infrastructure, and impacts” (Larson et al 2020)
  3. EU – McKinsey & Company’s “Net-Zero Europe: Decarbonization pathways and socioeconomic implications” (D’Aprile et al 2020)
  4. FR – France’s Ministère de la transition écologique’s “Stratégie nationale bas-carbone : La transition écologique et solidaire vers la neutralité carbone” (Ministère de la transition écologique 2020)

While a summary of general information on emissions to 2050 across the reports is provided in Table 11.1, to compare the various technological paths discussed in each report, a list of key questions on the role of different technologies is used, each identified and addressed in the discussions found in Part 2 of this report. The questions are grouped into the following three topics: sectoral pathways, energy and power production, and overarching technological challenges to reach net-zero.