Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C requires transformational change across power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land and food and agriculture as well as the immediate scale-up of carbon removal technologies and climate finance. The State of Climate Action series provides an overview of the world’s collective efforts to accelerate these far-reaching transitions. We first translate each sectoral transformation into a set of actionable, 1.5°C-aligned targets for 2030 and 2050, with associated indicators and datasets. Annual installments of the report then compare recent progress made toward (or away from) these mitigation goals with the pace of change required to achieve 2030 targets to quantify the global gap in climate action. While a similar effort is warranted to evaluate adaptation efforts, we limit this series’ scope to tracking progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This technical note accompanies the State of Climate Action 2023. It describes our methods for identifying sectors that must transform, translating these transformations into global mitigation targets primarily for 2030 and 2050 and selecting indicators with datasets to monitor annual change. It also outlines our approach for assessing the world’s progress made toward near-term targets and categorizing recent efforts as on track, off track, well off track, heading in the wrong direction or insufficient data. Finally, it details how we compare trends over time, as well as limitations to our methodology.

This year’s technical note features several changes to the technical note we published alongside the State of Climate Action 2022. Key updates include the following: revisions to 15 targets to reflect the best available science, including scenarios from the integrated assessment models included in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report and recently published literature; the inclusion of interim targets for 2035 or 2040 where possible; the addition of four indicators (share of new buildings that are zero-carbon in operation, share of electric vehicles in two- and three-wheeler sales, the GHG emissions intensity of agricultural production and ratio of investment in low-carbon to fossil fuel energy supply); and the removal of two indicators (carbon intensity of land-based passenger transport and GHG emissions from agricultural production). We also refined our methodology for assessing the progress of indicators that we can reasonably expect to follow an S-curve, and added new methods for comparing each indicator’s most recent data point to recent trends. Finally, we removed the discussion of enabling conditions from this technical note, as the series no longer covers them.

Preview image by Kamal Preet Kaur/Unsplash