Preparation of the policy matrix

We developed a matrix of key policy options to analyse the evolution climate policy adoption, the Policy Matrix. Policies were mapped into policy options depending on their sector, policy instruments and mitigation area. Policy instruments provide a link between desired policy outcomes and implementation (Rogge and Reichardt, 2016). The term refers to the instrument used to put the policy in practice, e.g. subsidies or carbon pricing. The term “policy option” refers sector-specific measures that can reduce emissions and be achieved via distinct and multiple policy instruments. Together they constitute a comprehensive global mitigation package but are not individually necessary everywhere. For example, fossil-fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS) is unnecessary in countries with decarbonised electricity supply.

Even though the matrix does not show links between policies, it provides an overview of what constitutes comprehensive policy coverage. The policy options were identified based on policies that are generally agreed to contribute to emissions reductions (IPCC, 2014), represent sector-level example policies, which have been successful in specific contexts (UNFCCC, 2018; UNEP, 2019), or are expected to result in sufficient sectoral transformation to achieve emissions reductions (Mitchell et al., 2011; GEA, 2012; OECD/IEA and IRENA, 2017; IEA, 2018, 2019).

The developed matrix contains 50 policy options distributed across six sectors and five mitigation areas. Information and education policies are excluded, as their contribution to emissions reductions is often mediated by the identified policy options. The matrix neither provides judgement on the adequacy of the policy options, nor does it benchmark them against any ideal of ambition. In many cases, the policy options outlined can only lead to incremental emissions reductions.

Structure of the policy matrix


Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Climate strategyOverarching national plans for the implementation of measures related to climate change. National strategies must have been approved or adopted by a government body.(Dubash et al., 2013; Iacobuta et al., 2018)
GHG reduction targetTargets related to GHG emissions reductions. Applies to absolute emissions targets as well as reduction below business as usual trajectories and intensity targets. More uncertain mid-century targets were not considered.(IEA, 2015; Iacobuta et al., 2018)
Coordinating body for climate strategyInstitutions with the main purpose of coordinating the implementation of climate strategies as well as overseeing activities related to climate change.(IPCC, 2014; Iacobuta et al., 2018)
Support for low-emission or negative emissions RD&DSupport for research and development of low- or negative-emissions technologies that help the transition to a low-carbon economy.(UNFCCC, 2014a; IEA, 2017; IPCC, 2018)
No fossil fuel subsidiesRemoval of all fossil fuel subsidies enabling the achievement of development goals and paving the way to a transition to green technologies.(Jakob et al., 2015; Rentschler and Bazilian, 2017)
Economy-wide energy efficiency targetTargets resulting in energy consumption below a business as usual trajectory. Usually presented as a reduction in energy intensity over GDP or as a total energy consumption target.(IEA, 2015; Grubler et al., 2018)
Renewable target for primary energyRenewable target associated to primary energy demand. Targets related to electricity alone are included in the electricity and heat sector. Setting short- to mid-term targets for renewable electricity generation or capacity provides certainty for investors.(IEA, 2015; REN21, 2018)

Electricity and heat

Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Support for highly efficient power plant stockPolicies addressing energy efficiency for the electricity and heat sector, ensuring the phase-out of inefficient power plants.(Somanathan et al., 2014; IEA, 2015, 2019; UNEP, 2019)
Energy reduction obligation schemesSchemes where electricity producers must ensure energy savings internally or support energy use reduction of end-users.(UNFCCC, 2014b, 2015)
Renewable energy target for electricity sectorRenewable electricity targets that support policy making, i.e. formulation, implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluation of renewable uptake.(IRENA, 2015; REN21, 2018)
Support scheme for renewablesIncentives to increase the share of renewables in the grid via increasing cost-effectiveness, allowing or facilitating grid integration as well as direct government investments.(IPCC, 2014; IEA, 2015, 2019; Carley et al., 2017; UNFCCC, 2018)
Grid infrastructure development and electricity storageMeasures for the development of the electricity grid and storage, allowing installation of high shares of variable renewable electricity, such as solar PV and wind, in the system.(Lund et al., 2015; IRENA, 2016; IRENA, IEA and REN21, 2018).
Emission-intensive phase-out policiesPolicies setting a strategic plan for the phase out of emissions-intensive technologies, primarily coal- and oil-fired technologies.(Kriegler et al., 2018; Kuramochi et al., 2018; Jakob et al., 2020)
Support scheme for CCSSupport schemes for the development and uptake of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the electricity sector.(IPCC, 2018)
Support scheme for non-renewable low-carbon alternativesSupport for options, besides renewable electricity and heat, such as nuclear and hydrogen-based technologies.(Deetman, Hof and van Vuuren, 2015; IPCC, 2018)


Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Strategy for material efficiencyPolicies that aim to introduce resource-efficient processes or changes in materials used, and designs or enhance recycling and re-use of products.(Fischedick et al., 2014; IPCC, 2014; Kuramochi et al., 2018; UNEP, 2019)
Support for energy efficiency in industrial productionPolicies that support energy efficiency improvements. It often taken the form of voluntary agreements, which can play a major role of facilitating cooperation among firms, industrial associations, and governments to identify and realise low-cost emissions reduction measures.(Somanathan et al., 2014; UNEP, 2016; UNFCCC, 2018; IEA, 2019)
Energy reporting and auditsPolicies that foster the implementation of energy management systems, e.g. energy monitoring and auditing, and energy data collection.(Somanathan et al., 2014; UNEP, 2016)
Performance and equipment standardsMandatory energy efficiency requirements for equipment used in industrial production and for overall energy use.(UNEP, 2019; IEA, 2020)
Support schemes for renewablesPolicies that encourage or impose the uptake of renewables to address own energy consumption.(BigEE, 2016; IEA, 2020)
Support scheme for CCSSupport schemes for the development and uptake of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the industry sector.(Åhman, Nilsson and Johansson, 2017; Kuramochi et al., 2018; IEA, 2020)
Support scheme for fuel switchPolicies supporting fuel and feedstock switching away from fossil fuels, such as the use of biofuels, electrification or hydrogen.(Fischedick et al., 2014; Agora Energiewende and Wuppertal Institut, 2019; UNEP, 2019)
Carbon dioxide removal technology developmentPolicies that aim to develop options for carbon dioxide removal such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Direct Air Capture with Carbon Storage (DACCS), enhanced weathering and mineral carbonation as well as develop stable, predictable, efficient and large support mechanism for mature CDR technologies.(IPCC, 2018; Kuramochi et al., 2018; Luderer et al., 2018; van Vuuren et al., 2018; Cox and Edwards, 2019)
Landfill methane reductionPolicies that aim to address emissions associated with landfill waste and provide a clear mandate or strategies to reduce methane emissions.(Powell, Townsend and Zimmerman, 2016)
Incentives to reduce CH4 from fuel exploration and productionPolicies that regulate fossil fuel extraction, aiming at the reduction of fugitive emissions, particularly those associated with coal and gas exploration.(Erickson, Lazarus and Piggot, 2018; Roelfsema et al., 2018)
Incentives to reduce N2O from industrial processesPolicies addressing non-energy related industry emissions, especially those related to chemical processes.(Somanathan et al., 2014; IEA, 2015)
Incentives to reduce fluorinated gasesRegulations to accelerate the phase out of F-gases, originally introduced to replace ozone-harming chemicals.(IPCC, 2014; IEA, 2015; Roelfsema et al., 2018)


Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Urban planning strategiesPolicies that address the overall future directions for the retrofit of old buildings, promotion of compact cities, improving infrastructure that promotes energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.(Dulal, Brodnig and Onoriose, 2011; Somanathan et al., 2014; UNFCCC, 2015; BigEE, 2016)
Building codes and standards as well as support for highly efficient constructionPolicy instruments aiming at reducing energy consumption in buildings such as building codes and standards (including individual building components), and incentives to support energy efficiency in both existing and planned buildings.(UNEP, 2016; OECD/IEA and IRENA, 2017; Kuramochi et al., 2018; UNFCCC, 2018).
Performance and equipment standards as well as support for highly efficient appliancesPolicies to reduce energy use in buildings by improving the energy use of appliances, including heating/cooling and cooking devices. As there are few policies addressing electrification of end use, policies aiming to increase the use of heat pumps and/or induction cookstoves were included as support for ‘efficient appliances.’(Climate Action Tracker, 2016, 2018; Roelfsema et al., 2018; Knobloch et al., 2020)
Support scheme for heating and coolingPolicies such as support schemes for the use of renewable energy in heating and cooling (e.g. biomass, geothermal, and solar thermal).(Mitchell et al., 2011)
Support scheme for hot water and cookingPolicies supporting the use of renewable technologies to heat water such as solar heaters and cooking, e.g. biogas.(UNFCCC, 2014a; UNEP, 2015)


Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Urban planning and infrastructure investmentUrban planning strategies that support the reduction of land transport emissions. Strategies that ensure investment in well-connected and frequent public transport options, or invest in infrastructure for better connectivity and traffic fluidisation.(Somanathan et al., 2014; UNFCCC, 2015, 2017)
Energy/emissions performance standards or support for energy efficient for LDVsVehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards or fiscal/financial incentives for light vehicles.(IEA/IRENA, 2017; Roelfsema et al., 2018; IEA, 2019; UNEP, 2019; Axsen, Plötz and Wolinetz, 2020)
Energy/emissions performance standards or support for energy efficient for HDVsVehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards or fiscal/financial incentives for heavy-duty vehicles.
Support for biofuelsTargets and specific support policies (e.g. tax relief, mandatory blending) to support the uptake of biofuels.(Daioglou et al., 2017)
Support for modal share switchPolicies that encourage modal shift programmes, such as investments in public transport or subsidies for two- and three-wheelers.(Wright and Fulton, 2005; UNEP, 2019; Axsen, Plötz and Wolinetz, 2020)
Support for low-emissions land transportationPolicies that support low-emissions land transport via, for example, the use of electric vehicles for light-duty transportation or hydrogen.(IEA/IRENA, 2017; Kuramochi et al., 2018; Roelfsema et al., 2018; UNFCCC, 2018; Knobloch et al., 2020)


Policy optionDescriptionFurther information
Standards and support for sustainable agricultural practices and use of agricultural productsStandards and support for sustainable agricultural practices and agricultural products that incentivise emissions reductions in the agriculture sector.(IPCC, 2014; Kuramochi et al., 2018; UNFCCC, 2018; Roe et al., 2020)
Incentives to reduce CO2 emissions from agricultureIncentives to reduce emissions in subsectors, including CO2 emissions from agricultural soils. Emissions related to energy-CO2 are covered in the Electricity and heat sector.(Ray et al., 2020)
Incentives to reduce CH4 emissions from agricultureIncentives to reduce emissions in subsectors, including CH4 emissions from animals, such as incentives for improved livestock production management.(Herrero et al., 2016; Frank et al., 2018, 2019)
Incentives to reduce N2O emissions from agricultureIncentives to reduce emissions in subsectors, including N2O emissions from animals and soils, such as those addressing the inefficient use of nitrogen fertilizers.(Herrero et al., 2016; Frank et al., 2018, 2019; Thompson et al., 2019)
Incentives to reduce deforestation and support for afforestation /reforestationIncentives to reduce deforestation and encourage good forestry management via regulatory measures (command-and-control instruments), protection of areas of forests, or economic instruments (e.g. grants or subsidies to protect forests).(Kuramochi et al., 2018; Roe et al., 2020)
Sustainability standards for biomass useStandards for biomass production and use, ensuring that the biomass use leads to overall GHG emissions reductions.(Johnson, 2009; Daioglou et al., 2017; Booth, 2018)