Start gun fired for Race to Zero as climate action campaign launches on the World Environment Day


A CAMPAIGN to spur more ambitious climate from the private sector takes off as “Race to Zero” is launched today by High-level Champions for COP26 together with the UN climate convention.

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for ‘a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.’

The launch is taking place on World Environment Day, the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment.

Dr Alison Doig, International Lead at Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, highlighted the importance of the new campaign in promoting action on climate change: “With the Race to Zero campaign the UN High Level Climate Champions are firing the start gun on a race to the top on climate action.

“Their aim is to accelerate the groundswell of climate ambition we’re already seeing across the real economy as we invest in the recovery from the pandemic.

“The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit net zero tracker shows that just 18 months after the world’s climate scientists made the case for reaching net zero emissions by 2050, countries, states and cities representing 53% of global GDP and 23% of global CO2 emissions have already declared an intention to do just that.

“Now joined by over 1000 companies and 35 big investors, the challenge is to gather momentum for many more actors to join.

“This is not however about pushing climate action to some date in the future; no entity can reach net zero in 2050 without starting now, and so it’s entirely sensible that in order to qualify for entry to the Race to Zero, participants will have to present delivery plans, including setting interim targets for the next decade, by the time COP26 opens in Glasgow next year.”

According to the UN, the world is “way off-track” to deliver the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Preliminary data for 2019 suggests that greenhouse gas emissions increased globally in 2019 and carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew by more than 0.5% last year.

The Race to Zero campaign will encourage renewed commitments to reaching the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement.

It mobilises a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 449 cities, 21 regions, 992 businesses, 38 of the biggest investors, and 505 universities.

These ‘real economy’ actors join 120 countries in the largest-ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Collectively these actors now cover nearly 25% global CO2 emissions and over 50% GDP.

At a corporate level, businesses with revenues totalling more than $4.7trn are backing the commitment.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change claims around a quarter of these businesses have targets aligned to net-zero.

New commitments to the campaign have arrived from the likes of H&M, Diageo and Rolls Royce.

The participants will have to submit net-zero road maps ahead of the COP26 conference next year, which was postponed to November 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plans that must include interim targets on the trajectory towards net-zero as well as meeting select criteria from the University of Oxford.

The Institute for New Economic Thinking’s senior fellow, Adair Turner, added: “It is technologically and economically possible for the whole world to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, and essential in order to limit global warming to well below 2C.

“So it is heartening that an ever-widening range of leading countries, companies and cities are committing to that objective.

“The very fact that they do so will spur the investment and innovation needed to make the goal attainable.”