The Paris Agreement formulates the goal of GHG neutrality in the second half of this century. Given that Nationally Determined Contributions are as yet insufficient, the question is through which policies can this goal be realized? Identifying policy pathways to ratchet up stringency is instrumental, but little guidance is available. We propose a policy sequencing framework and substantiate it using the cases of Germany and California. Its core elements are policy options to overcome barriers to stringency over time. Such sequencing can advance policy design and hopefully reconcile the controversy between first-best and second-best approaches.