The Global Stocktake report on the Paris Agreement has reviewed emission reduction targets and actions stated by countries in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Jointly, they are insufficient to limit temperature increases to well below 2°C and to adapt to climate change (UNFCCC & CMA, 2023). To enhance public and political support for more ambitious climate action, the Global Stocktake emphasises the need to recognize the wider benefits for biodiversity, job protection, modernization, improved living standards and better access to mobility.

With the ‘Research on Transition Indicators’ project, we explore whether transition indicators can help address these needs by (a) articulating the intended positive outcomes of transitions, (b) providing metrics to facilitate public and political dialogue to agree on quantitative outcomes, and (c) guiding the effective implementation of public policies and helping measure their progress. Transition indicators could also contribute to enhancing the investment framework, to bring forward private investments for measures with mitigation and adaptation benefits.

This project was carried out by an international team of researchers, delving into a range of case studies from China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Korea, and the Netherlands. The authors identified or constructed quantitative indicators for the most relevant transitions in their respective cases, to illustrate the concept and to better understand the trade-offs involved. The study did not consider whether these transition indicators can or should be globally harmonized: instead, each example is focused on country-specific sectoral priorities and needs for the transition.

The case studies provide potential indicators to promote and measure transitions toward climate neutrality across a range of sectors: buildings, transport, industry, agriculture, and power sectors, as well as the transition towards climate-resilient water access and land use for rural and urban communities. Moreover, all case studies explore transition indicators to facilitate public understanding of the core benefits of the transition, as well as to champion an inclusive dialogue on this matter.

Deviating from most other studies, the search for suitable indicators was not constrained to indicators based on readily available data. Instead, the suitability for engagement, an inclusive dialogue, target setting, and tracking progress were the guiding principles. We find that transition indicators have the potential to effectively support a transition toward climate neutrality and climate resilience. The illustrative examples within the case studies could, in each instance, inform discussions over the suitable choice of such transition indicators at the national level.