Steps for making a net zero Commitment

Net zero commitments are now expected standards for companies, local, regional and national governments. The following are clear steps to follow in setting net zero commitments, developed by the University of Oxford through an extensive series of stakeholder workshops. These are the same as the minimum criteria for the UNFCCC backed Race to Zero Campaign ahead of the Conference of Parties in Glasgow this year, a pivotal moment in global climate negotiations. By taking these steps your institution can join the global effort to meet the Paris Agreement goals.


Pledge at the head-of-organization level to reach net zero in the 2040s or sooner, or by midcentury at the latest, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5C.

act immediately.

Your pledge should cover all Kyoto protocol gases, and all activities and scopes, including scope 3.

Tools to help me follow these steps


In advance of COP26, explain what steps will be taken toward achieving net zero, especially in the short- to medium-term.
Set interim targets to achieve in the next decade, which reflect a fair share of the 50% global reduction in CO2 by 2030 identified in the IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5C.
Equity is important: the scope and timing of each institution’s net zero journey will differ according to capacity, current carbon footprint and other factors.
Plan for future uncertainties, particularly around changes in technology and the impact of the actions of others, whether consumers, government, regulators or businesses.

Tools to help me follow these steps


Take immediate action toward achieving net zero, consistent with delivering interim targets.

If you plan to offset, use robust standards to make sure their benefit is real and lasting. Committers should avoid non-additionality and aim for permanence and verifiability.

Clearly specify offsetting approach, whether it is grounded in avoided emissions, reductions, or removals.

Tools to help me follow these steps


Commit to report progress at least annually, including via platforms that feed into the UNFCCC Global Climate Action Portal as much as possible.

Maintain transparency with clear and regulator reporting against your plan.

Tools to help me follow these steps

Official criteria

The steps above come from the official criteria for joining the Race to Zero campaign. The criteria were created by the networks and initiatives that form the race to zero's international climate action community.  You can download a mapping of the the criteria here, with questions to ask your institution about its targets.