Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week Provides Regional Boost for Success at COP26

The Virtual Thematic Sessions of the Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week 2021 (LACCW2021) are wrapping up today, providing important momentum for a successful UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in November in Glasgow.

Momentum came from more than 5,000 registered attendees joining in the conversation, including from the host Government of the Dominican Republic, governments at all levels, private sector leaders, academic experts and engaged stakeholders.

The virtual sessions saw 83 events and close to 100 hours of live presentations and discussions, with around 300 speakers, in collaboration with more than 30 global and regional organizations.

Alluding to major health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, Orlando Jorge Mera, Minister of Environment & Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, said:

“This event has taken place under very unusual circumstances and has tested our ability to reconcile and agree on innovative solutions in times of crisis. I can confidently say that we have passed the test. In these last four days, we have managed to catalyze commitments in three key areas: integration of climate action into national planning; adaptation to climate risks; and transformative opportunities towards carbon neutrality. We are now one step closer to consolidating strong positions for COP26 in Glasgow.”

Speaking at the closing press briefing of the sessions, UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad said:

“The fruitful sessions held over the last four days here in Latin America and the Caribbean demonstrate that the climate urgency is well recognized. And I am impressed how LAC countries are working on climate action whilst battling the COVID-19 pandemic. With only six months to go to COP26, we are at a crucial moment. Many nations are right now developing new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions – national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement – and this is the year we determine if we can get on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals. LACCW 2021 gives us optimism for success at COP 26 because of the momentum we see now, and the potential for more in the future.”

Dr. Max Puig, Executive Vice President of the National Council on Climate Change of the Dominican Republic, said:

“After almost two years without sitting face to face at a discussion table with the Parties to the Convention, the Thematic Sessions of the LAC Regional Climate Week have allowed us to return to the climate agenda with strength and enthusiasm, with the active participation of all relevant stakeholders, including civil society, academia and national and local governments.”

Over three days, core organizing partners led discussions on themes that are crucial to meeting the world’s common climate challenge:

  • The World Bank examined national actions and economy-wide approaches, seeking synergies and shaping national planning for a sustainable, green recovery.
  • UNDP led sessions on integrated approaches for climate-resilient development, looking at how both climate risk and climate solutions are reshaping different sectors.
  • The UN Environment Programme led discussions on seizing transformation opportunities that explore a reimagined future and the behaviours, technologies and financing needed to get there.

On the final day of LACCW2021, the COP26 Presidency is hosting a series of events reflecting the UK’s four goals for COP26: mitigation, adaptation, mobilising finance, and collaboration.

Conversations are ranging from capacity building on NDC ambition in the region as part of the COP26 Catalyst for Climate Action, to dialogues with Indigenous Peoples on leading nature-based solutions, as well as research and innovation and climate finance.

Fiona Clouder, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean, said:

“LACCW2021 has enabled us to come together and focus on the challenges and opportunities to deliver on the Paris Agreement and move to net zero in the Latin America and Caribbean Region. With six months to go now until the COP26 conference, together we need to build partnerships and tangible and ambitious action to tackle climate change to ensure we safeguard the future of this diverse region and its environment.”

A dedicated session at the LACCW2021 Ministerial Event in August will ensure that outcomes from the 2021 Virtual Thematic Sessions are captured and framed within the larger context of COP26.

Next steps to COP 26 include the upcoming May–June 2021 Climate Change Conference (sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies) and the Asia Pacific Climate Week and Africa Climate Week in July before COP 26 convenes in Glasgow in November.

COP25 and COP26 Presidents Urge Governments to Strengthen the Climate Ambition Alliance

Ahead of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, the President of the conference, Mr. Alok Sharma, and the President of the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid in 2019, Ms. Carolina Schmidt of Chile, are calling on all countries to either follow through on commitments made under the Climate Ambition Alliance, or to join the efforts of the Alliance.

The Climate Ambition Alliance brings together countries, businesses, investors, cities and regions which are working towards achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, as well as countries committed to updating their national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement – Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).  Alluding to the analysis of national climate action plans submitted in 2020 and compiled by the UN Climate Change secretariat, the COP Presidents write:

“The leadership from governments and non-state actors starts our pathway to net zero. But it is not enough (…) We are currently a long way off what science tells us is needed over the course of this decade. Together we need to go further and faster to ensure that we build a healthier and more sustainable future, one which respects the natural systems that underpin our existence and delivers dignity for all of humanity.”

Through the Climate Ambition Alliance launched in 2019, over 120 governments joined together, committing to come forward with plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and to submit more ambitious NDCs. This means countries covering around 70% of global GDP have made net-zero commitments.

Country engagement in the Alliance is led by the governments of Chile and the United Kingdom, with support from UN Climate Change and UNDP. Mobilization of non-government actors is led by the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz under the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign.

Beyond governments, over 3,000 organizations have joined the Race to Zero campaign led by the High-Level Champions. Last week, the UN-led Race to Zero campaign strengthened and clarified criteria that outline the minimum standard for initiatives of businesses, investors, cities, regions and universities for robust and credible net-zero commitments.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa endorsed the call by the COP Presidents, saying: “2021 will be the most important year for the international response to climate change since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All efforts during the year will culminate at COP26, which must be a success. More countries joining the Climate Ambition and following through on existing commitments, backed by new commitments made under the Race to Zero campaign, will provide crucial impetus to put the world on a pathway to a safer and healthier future.”

The COP Presidents Alok Sharma and Carolina Schmidt are asking governments to inform them of their plans for raising ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions and identify the following key opportunities to collaborate ahead of COP26:

•             Regional Climate Weeks in 2021 will provide opportunities for information exchange and peer learning on national and sectoral approaches to delivering net-zero emissions;

•             High-Level Regional Climate Week events in August and September will showcase and recognize the leadership of members of the Climate Ambition Alliance; and

•             Sectoral- and technical-level dialogues, including under the Marrakech Partnership, will support national planning exercises.

Launch of Race To Zero Breakthroughs

The UN High-Level Climate Champions, COP26 President Alok Sharma, COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, together with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, launched the Race to Zero Breakthroughs at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda.

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. Reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century is crucial to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement on climate action, with clearly defined interim goals.

The “Race to Zero Breakthroughs” have been published in a special paper, which sets out near-term goals for more than 20 sectors that make up the global economy, forming a master plan around which business, governments, and civil society can unite ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference,  COP26, in Glasgow in November.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said: “The Race to Zero Breakthroughs set out the specific tipping points that every sector in the global economy must reach in order to create a resilient zero carbon world.  We now know what key actors must do, and by when, to deliver the sectoral changes needed. I call on leaders across all sectors of the global economy to work together to deliver the Race to Zero Breakthroughs.”

COP26 President Designate Alok Sharma said: “It is vital that businesses go net zero, as part of our fight against climate change. Which is why we look to all sectors to reach a point at which a clean way of operating becomes the norm. Because if every sector plays its part, we will see the global economy on the right path to achieving net zero by 2050.”

To meet this challenge, actors covering 20% of their sector are being asked to commit to each breakthrough. The UN High-Level Champions — Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz — are now calling on local governments, businesses and investors to achieve breakthroughs in at least 10 sectors of the economy by the time governments convene in Glasgow in November for the UN climate negotiations.

The Race to Zero Breakthroughs have been drawn from the Climate Action Pathways, a set of comprehensive roadmaps to achieve the Paris Agreement in line with 1.5°C across all sectors, which were developed by the Marrakech Partnership — a vast coalition from across the climate action ecosystem — all of whom will need to play their part to transform their sector to deliver the breakthroughs.

One key member of this coalition is the Mission Possible Partnership, which only yesterday unveiled a new major multi-stakeholder platform – leveraging the power of the World Economic Forum, the Energy Transitions Commission, the Rocky Mountain Institute and We Mean Business – to deliver the Race to Zero Breakthroughs in seven of the most energy-intensive industries, including steel and shipping.

To achieve whole-economy transformation, cities, regions and private sector leaders will need to work in partnership and commit their skills, ingenuity and resources to achieving these breakthroughs. As Gonzalo Muñoz, COP25 Climate Champion, said: “We cannot win the Race to Zero by racing alone. Only by collaborating in wholesale systems transformation can we upgrade the sectors of our global economy to deliver a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future. These sectoral breakthroughs will allow us to go further and faster in our race to zero emissions.”

Don’t miss the Race To Zero Dialogues

On 9-19 November the High-Level Champions for Global Climate Action are convening the Race to Zero Dialogues, in close collaboration with the Marrakech Partnership.

Building a climate-neutral and resilient world remains as urgent as ever. Collaboration between Parties and non-Party stakeholders (businesses, cities, subnational regions, investors and civil society) will be essential to grapple with the complexities of global transformation and promote high ambition of all stakeholders in the course of recover better. That’s why the importance of participating in the Race To Zero Dialogues.

In the spirit of inclusivity, the events are being hosted across multiple time-zones, allowing myriad speakers from all over the world to reflect on progress made on mitigation and adaptation.

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, but these dialogues will chart how entire sectors are already rapidly transitioning to a zero-carbon future, as defined in the Climate Action Pathways.

The Race To Zero Dialogues will serve as critical input to the UNFCCC Climate Dialogues from 23 Nov – Dec 4, which are advancing work governing the rules of the Paris Agreement. Together, both Dialogues will set the stage for the Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on 12 December as the world embarks on the ‘Race to Zero’ towards COP26 in 2021.

Each ‘Race to Zero’ virtual dialogue is organized by a key partner, under an umbrella programme curated by the High-Level Champions. Full details are here (links under ‘more information’ will be added in due course).

UK and Chile call for ambitious climate action ahead of COP26

On 24 September 2020, the UK and Chile issued a joint call for ambition on emissions reduction, adaptation and financing plans ahead of COP26.

Speaking during the week of the United Nations General Assembly, COP26 President Designate Alok Sharma and COP25 President Carolina Schmidt urged countries to come together to tackle climate change.

The COP26 President Designate also highlighted an invitation to world leaders to attend a special virtual event on 12 December, the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, to come forward with new ambitious commitments.

The COP25 President urged all countries to step up climate action by delivering more ambitious NDCs, adaptation plans, climate finance pledges and long-term strategies to net zero, as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Celebrating one year on from the Climate Ambition Alliance, the #RaceToZero campaign has brought together the largest global alliance committed to net zero

The number of commitments to reach net zero emissions from local governments and businesses has roughly doubled in less than a year, as many prioritize climate action in their recovery from Covid-19. Cities and regions with a carbon footprint greater than the emissions of the US, and companies with a combined revenue of over $11.4 trillion (equivalent to more than half of the US GDP), are now pursuing net zero emissions by the end of the century, according to a major report published by the Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute today.

The majority of these actors are aiming for a zero-carbon economy by 2050, as part of the UN Race to Zero campaign, the largest alliance of local governments, businesses, investors and others aiming for zero emissions in the 2040s. This now encompasses 22 regions, 452 cities, 1,101 businesses, 549 universities and 45 of the biggest investors. New joiners include:

  • New South Wales: Australia’s most populous state
  • Brambles: the global logistics company that moves more goods to more people than any other organization, supporting thousands of supply chains
  • C.P. Group: an Asian conglomerate and one of the world’s largest agri-food producers
  • Facebook: the world’s largest social media company
  • Ford: the first US full-line automaker committed to reducing CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Agreement
  • LafargeHolcim: the first global building materials company to join Business Ambition for 1.5°C with intermediate targets, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in alignment with net zero pathway
  • These companies have joined the Race to Zero via the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, by setting science-based targets in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Recognizing the critical yet often overlooked role that small and medium businesses will play in the transition to a zero-carbon economy, today also sees the launch of a new platform, SME Climate Hub, to support small and medium-sized enterprises in joining the Race to Zero. SMEs make up 90 percent of businesses worldwide, employ 2 billion people and have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19.

Corporations such as Ericsson, IKEA, Telia, BT Group and Unilever have committed to support the SME Climate Hub by working closely with the small and medium businesses in their supply chains to reach net zero or negative emissions before 2050.

These announcements will be made on the opening day of Climate Week NYC, Monday, September 21, during the COP26 & the Zero Carbon Growth Agenda event. The discussion features business and government leaders including Alok Sharma, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and COP26 President-Designate; Carolina Schmidt, COP25 President; Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP & Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th Mayor of New York City; and Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UN Climate Change.

The event will be convened by Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, UN High Level Climate Champions and leaders of the Race to Zero campaign, in collaboration with the Climate Group, to showcase how the shift to a zero-carbon economy is accelerating, and the scale of the opportunity to create good jobs, protect public health and address wider social inequities. The event also marks the one year anniversary of the Climate Ambition Alliance, launched at the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit, which Race To Zero is now mobilizing actors outside of national governments to join.

Alok Sharma said: ““Climate change affects every single one of us and we all have a part to play to champion climate action ahead of COP26. Through the Energy Transition Council and the UK’s ambitious climate finance commitments, I hope to drive the transition to cleaner energies, and I urge all businesses, cities and regions to join the Race to Zero coalition.”

Patricia Espinosa said: “Those involved in the Race to Zero have made a commitment to achieve specific goals and will be held to those promises. The world cannot afford to be let down. Nor can this campaign become something that allows nations to defer action until a later date. It’s about needing more climate ambition and climate action now — in 2020.”

Michael Bloomberg said: “It’s possible to reduce air pollution, improve health, extend people’s lives, fight the climate crisis, and grow local economies. We don’t have to choose just one of those outcomes. They all really do go hand in hand.”

Net Zero Commitments Keep Growing

The number of local governments and businesses pursuing a net zero emissions target by the end of the century has grown significantly since late 2019, according to the Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute, as many prioritize climate action as part of their recovery from the impacts of Covid-19. This includes:

  • A nine-fold increase for regions, with an additional 101 in 2020 from 11 recorded in 2019.
  • An eight-fold increase for cities, with 823 more in 2020 from 100 recorded in 2019.
  • A three-fold increase for companies, with 1,541 in 2020 from around 500 recorded in 2019.

Momentum among cities and regions spans most geographic areas, the report found. It is especially strong in East Asia and the Pacific, where participating cities and regions — including Tokyo, Wuhan, Hong Kong and eight Australian states — represent over 223 million people, or over 10 percent of the region’s total population. Nearly half of US states, from California and New York to Pennsylvania, Nevada and Louisiana, are also aiming for net zero in their overall emissions or in key sectors such as energy.

The report looks at all net zero commitments by cities, regions, businesses and investors around the world. Many of those are already part of the Race to Zero, which requires members to meet a minimum set of leadership criteria to maintain quality control.

Small Businesses Can Join the Race to Zero

Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, the We Mean Business coalition and the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, the SME Climate Hub will serve as a one-stop shop that makes it easier for small and medium enterprises to join the Race to Zero. SMEs provide around two-thirds of jobs worldwide, making them integral to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. Many are being required by large corporations to make businesses more sustainable, but have lacked the support needed to transform.

The SME Climate Hub will therefore be crucial in helping to decarbonize the value chains of major corporations, services and consumer products too, by providing the tools, knowledge and best practices that smaller enterprises need to do their part.

Along with Covid-19, climate change is one of the most pressing threats to small business. Left unchecked, climate change could damage business infrastructure, cause business interruptions and closures and stunt economic growth. With 40 percent to 60 percent of small businesses never reopening after a disaster, SMEs must take climate action today in order to survive and thrive tomorrow.

Cities and corporations back healthy recovery

Of the businesses that have joined the Race to Zero, 294 companies have reached the highest standard of corporate climate ambition as part of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign. This includes companies in some of the most energy intensive sectors and those most impacted by Covid-19. Meanwhile, the number of certified B Corporations that have pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2030 — 20 years before the Paris Agreement’s goal — has climbed to 762. Another five new companies now aim to meet the Paris Agreement by 2040, by signing The Climate Pledge, led by Amazon.

Suphachai Chearavanont, Chief Executive of C.P. Group, said: “As a leading Asian conglomerate with our core business in agri-food, C.P. Group has a role to play to reduce the agriculture sector’s carbon footprint and encourage consumers to adopt more sustainable food choices. With our commitment for net zero emissions by 2050, we aim to meet this opportunity by leveraging innovation and working closely with all our partners and stakeholders across our diverse set of businesses in the group around the world.”

Jan Jenisch, Chief Executive of LafargeHolcim, said: “As the global leader in our industry, LafargeHolcim has a key role to play to address today’s climate crisis. That’s why we are proud to announce our net zero pledge with science-based targets to accelerate green construction and the transition to a net zero world.”

Notable new business arrivals to the Race to Zero include:

  • Artistic Milliners
  • Arauco
  • Ardagh Group
  • Biogen
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Brambles
  • C.P. Group
  • Do Nation
  • Facebook
  • Ford
  • General Mills
  • The Guardian
  • Indra
  • LafargeHolcim
  • Lightsource bp
  • Mastercard
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Myers-Briggs Company
  • PVH
  • Paypal
  • Sweco

Companies Endorse EU Climate Ambition

The European Union is helping forge the race to zero emissions, with strong private sector leadership backing stronger climate goals. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement last week, proposing that the EU raise its emissions reduction goal for 2030 to at least 55 percent, came on the heels of a call by more than 160 businesses and investors. In the open letter, CEOs said they were determined to work with the EU for an ambitious implementation of the recovery package focused on achieving a green and digital transition.

Brad Smith, President of Microsoft Corporation, said: “Carbon doesn’t respect borders. The only way for us to meet these carbon reduction targets is for governments to boldly step forward and work together towards a zero carbon future.”

About Race to Zero

Race to Zero is the international campaign for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery. Led by the UNFCCC Champions for Climate Action, it aims to bring together net zero commitments from cities, businesses and investors across the climate action community in the run up to COP26. Race to Zero collaborates with the following international networks and initiatives, which have independently been mobilizing net zero commitments. All of them have require their participants to meet the Race to Zero’s minimum criteria:

See Race to Zero website here.

Local environmental authorities call for a Green New Deal for the Americas

On Monday, August 17, the 2nd Forum of Local Environmental Authorities of the Americas was held, which seeks to strengthen the role of environmental authorities designated by their respective heads of government and to debate “A new green deal in capitals after the coronavirus.”

The Mayor of Santiago, Felipe Alessandri, vice-president for South America of CC35 (Coalition of Capitals of the Americas against Climate Change) and President of the Mayors for Climate initiative, led this virtual meeting, which also saw Santiago granted the first ever Green Capital of the Americas Award, for its efforts developing the most emissions-free transportation of any major city on the continent.

The event began with a bilateral meeting between Mayor Alessandri and the Mayor of Glasgow, Susan Aitken, who will host the COP26 in November of 2021. In this sense, the event aimed to contribute to the Santiago to Glasgow roadmap, towards a Multi-Level Action COP26, created by the members of the global constituency of Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and presented at COP25 by LGMA with the support of the Chilean COP25 Presidency. This roadmap will mark the way for the rest of the sub-national governments of the world with a focus on six priority issues:

  1. Raising the ambition towards carbon neutrality by 2050;
  2. Strengthening climate financing for cities;
  3. Linking climate with nature and the circular economy;
  4. Promoting the vertical integration of NDCs;
  5. Achieving a balanced approach between adaptation and mitigation; and
  6. Amplifying global action on climate

During the Forum, it was recalled that cities and local governments are one of the 9 priority foci established by the Chilean COP25 Presidency and, therefore, coordination and promotion efforts are being made towards the unification of the agendas of local government networks and representatives.

The “Climate Action Agenda for Local Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean 2020 and beyond” was developed with the support of the Chilean Presidency COP25, by members of the Regional Committee of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, including the participation of UCLG/FLACMA, ICLEI, C40, Mercociudades, and strategic partners such as CC35. This Agenda establishes 5 priority areas of action for local governments in the region, reflecting those established in the global LGMA framework:

  1. Commitments and local ambition;
  2. Vertical integration of NDCs and climate policy;
  3. New climate financing mechanisms for local governments;
  4. Local planning for carbon neutrality and resilience/adaptation;
  5. Integration of local strategies with those related to just transition, green/circular economy and climate empowerment.

Today, in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the role of local governments in coordinating crisis response efforts has been highlighted throughout the world; and their role will continue to be essential in activating a green recovery based on principles of circular economy, just transition, carbon neutrality, and a resilient transformation in the face of climate change.

The health crisis marks a turning point, and as has been highlighted by the COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, “climate change is not in quarantine.” Efforts must be redoubled to ensure that communities, territories and economies are strengthened and prepared to face the tremendous challenges of climate change that affect the world today.

The COP25 Presidency will continue to work hand in hand with our counterparts in the COP26 Presidency and the High-Level Champions, LGMA constituency and all networks and local governments, to strengthen the sub-national agenda of multi-level action throughout the Chilean Presidency.

 

Cities, regions and businesses ramp up ambition on climate change to deliver healthier economies in the wake of the pandemic

  • World Environment Day sees the launch of “Race to Zero” that will run up to COP26 — an international campaign for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery. Led by the UNFCCC Champions for Climate Action, it brings together an unprecedented coalition of net zero emissions initiatives, covering 992 businesses, 449 cities, 21 regions, 505 universities and 38 of the biggest investors.
  • These ‘real economy’ actors join 120 countries in the Climate Ambition Alliance, creating the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
  • Collectively, these real economy actors now cover just over half GDP, a quarter of global CO2 emissions and over 2.6 billion people, according to new data by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit published today, representing a 66% increase in commitments since COP25.
  • At a virtual launch event today, UK COP26 President Alok Sharma and Chile COP25 President Carolina Schmidt will call for a healthy, resilient, and inclusive recovery. UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Mark Carney, will discuss work in the private finance agenda to help investors identify the opportunities in the transition to net zero and report the alignment of their own portfolios with net zero.
  • Listed companies setting net zero targets have combined annual revenues of $4.72 trillion. These include Adobe, Cap Gemini SE, Diageo, Inditex, Kuehne + Nagel AG, LONGi Green Energy Technology Co, and Rolls-Royce.
  • The Climate Pledge co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism, which is committed to mobilizing corporate leadership to achieve net zero carbon by 2040, joins Race to Zero today.
  • In response to the growing volley of net zero commitments and ambitions, Oxford University publishes minimum criteria for initiatives and networks that join Race to Zero. This requires all participants to not only pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but also to submit a plan in advance of COP26 and set interim targets in the next decade.

 

5 June – To mark World Environment Day, a vast and unlikely alliance of investors, activists, cities and corporates will gather virtually for the launch of Race to Zero, the global campaign to mobilise leadership and support for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery which creates well-paying jobs, unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth and prevents future threats.

The campaign – under the stewardship of Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz, the UN High Level Climate Champions for the UK and Chile – will rally ‘real economy’ leaders to join the largest ever coalition of businesses, investors, cities and regions  committed to the same overarching goal: achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest, in line with the scientific consensus on limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Already covering 23% CO2 emissions and 53% of GDP and sounding the drumbeat to COP26, the campaign aims to drive a new growth and innovation agenda in support of a healthier, more inclusive and resilient economy. To maintain quality control, Oxford University has set out minimum criteria for robust Race to Zero targets, published today.

Prioritising climate change in the economic recovery has the support of over two-thirds of people worldwide. Moreover, low carbon stimulus can spur economic recovery and job creation as effectively as—or better than—environmentally neutral or harmful programs, as new research by McKinsey shows. The magnitude of stimulus packages, in the region of £10-20 trillion, will shape the economy for the next decade.

The campaign is also working to define the most effective pathways to zero emission for key sectors such as energy, transport, industry, food, retail and finance – in a bid to mass mobilize the number of companies and cities committed to net zero by at least 2050 and reach key economic tipping points faster. The new pathways will drive coordinated action by investors, businesses, policymakers, and NGOs.

Big ambitions for COP26 in 2021
Days after the new date for COP26 was confirmed for 1-12 November 2021, Alok Sharma, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and COP26 President, said: “The way we rebuild our economies post Covid-19 will have a profound impact on our planet. We have the opportunity to build back better by investing in a clean, resilient recovery.

“The Race to Zero initiative will play an important part in encouraging businesses, other organisations and regional governments to increase their ambition and take action against climate change.”

COP25 President Carolina Schmidt said: “In September 2019 we launched the Climate Ambition Alliance to commit states and non-state actors to carbon neutrality by 2050 as science asks us, in order to achieve the goal of 1.5°C. Today we applaud the Race To Zero campaign, which was born from this Alliance, and which invites non-state actors to continue joining to take on this enormous challenge we have as humanity. Despite the health crisis, climate action must continue at all levels.”

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa added: “Race to Zero must help spur strong enhanced national climate action plans—or NDCs—due this year. Race to Zero is not a campaign of the future, but a campaign of today. That’s why all members are demonstrating how they’re already in the race to zero, by publishing immediate plans by COP26 and setting interim targets in 2025 and 2030.”

Climate central to a healthier recovery
With health concerns at an all time high, cities including Freetown, Bogota, and Phoenix today announce new commitments to tackle air pollution and become zero carbon by 2050. In Japan alone, local governments setting net zero targets cover 64 million people — over half Japan’s population.

Dr Maria Neira, Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization, will call on governments to put health and climate action at the centre of recovery plans. “Like never before, the world has gathered around one goal: the race to zero deaths from COVID-19. A healthy recovery from this pandemic means we need to continue and expand this race to zero deaths from climate change and environmental pollution, a race to zero people pushed into poverty because of health costs, to zero people breathing polluted air. If we want to recover from COVID-19, we all need to embark on a Race to Zero emissions.”

Net zero lens for investment and finance
Reorienting investment and finance for net zero will be a major focus for the UK COP Presidency and the Race to Zero. As UN Special Envoy for Climate & Finance and advisor to the UK Government on COP26, Mark Carney said: “The transition to net zero is creating the greatest commercial opportunity of our time.  Net zero targets must be underpinned by transition plans so that investors can assess which companies will seize the opportunities in the transition and which will cease to exist. The priority of the COP 26 Private Finance work is to support investors in: assessing the credibility of company transition plans; measuring how their own portfolios are aligned to net zero; and disclosing the alignment of investment portfolios.”

Businesses stepping-up ambition on zero carbon commitments
Of the nearly 1,000 businesses that have joined the Race to Zero, there are 237 companies that are already reaching the highest standard of corporate climate ambition as part of the growing Business Ambition for 1.5C campaign by targeting net zero emissions by 2050 to align their business with a 1.5°C limit. This includes companies in some of the hardest to abate sectors and those most impacted by COVID-19, such as aviation, shipping, rail and power generation leader Rolls-Royce, retailer Inditex and food & drink company Diageo.

New signatories today include:

  • Adobe
  • Ajinomoto Co
  • Brunswick Group
  • Cap Gemini SE
  • Diageo
  • H&M
  • Husqvarna AB
  • Inditex
  • Kuehne + Nagel AG
  • JLL
  • Legrand
  • Magyar Telekom
  • Rolls-Royce
  • LONGi Green Energy Technology Co

The CEOs of two companies – Mark Schneider of Nestlé and Warren East of Rolls-Royce – will join today’s launch event to discuss why they are placing net zero at the heart of their innovation and new growth agenda. Together they are harnessing solutions both to decarbonize their power and conserve nature to deliver a healthier, more resilient and zero carbon economy.

Warren East, chief executive officer, Rolls-Royce said: “The world on the other side of this pandemic will need the power that we generate to fuel economic recovery. I absolutely believe the call for that power to be more sustainable and net zero will be stronger than ever. Few companies on the planet are better placed than Rolls-Royce to help. We will use our capabilities to play a leading role in enabling the vital sectors in which we operate to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. I absolutely believe this ambition will drive our competitiveness for the future.”

Mark Schneider, chief executive, Nestlé added:””We know the challenge of climate change will not wait, so neither will we. Time is of the essence and we need quick wins in the short term, to build a better future as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Nestlé is committed to this cause. We will work with others and use our scale and expertise as well as the power of our brands to drive progress – fast.Building a more sustainable food system will be a core element of the solution to climate change and we intend to play our part in making this happen”

To help companies achieve net zero, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)  is today launching 1.5C SOS — a framework to guide all companies through the key steps to decarbonise in line with the 1.5°C goal. This follows  155 corporations from 33 countries, with a combined market capitalisation of more than $2.4 trillion and 5 million employees, that urged governments to make sure their COVID-19 recovery aid is designed to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Universities stepping up to join campaign
Global Universities and Colleges for the Climate has joined the Race to Zero campaign. Since 2019, has rallied 500 higher education institutions and networks, representing more than 17,000 colleges and universities and 4.6 million students committed to be net zero by 2050 at the latest.

Millions of SMEs to be given the tools to achieve net zero emissions
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, with the support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have announced a new partnership to develop a global platform – SME Exponential Race to Zero – providing ICC’s network of 45 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with concrete climate action tools and the financial resources necessary to set and achieve climate targets aligned with the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

 

About Race to Zero
Race to Zero is the international campaign for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery. Led by the UNFCCC Champions for Climate Action, it aims to bring together net zero commitments from cities, businesses and investors across the climate action community in the run up to COP26. Race to Zero collaborates with the following international networks and initiatives, which have independently been mobilizing net zero commitments. All of them have require their participants to meet the Race to Zero’s minimum criteria:

Full list of companies committing to set targets in line with reaching net zero emissions by 2050, as part of the Science Based Targets initiative and its Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign today – taking the total to 237 companies:

  • Adobe
  • Ajinomoto Co
  • Brunswick Group
  • Cap Gemini SE
  • Diageo
  • H&M
  • Husqvarna AB
  • Inditex
  • Kuehne + Nagel AG
  • JLL
  • Legrand
  • Magyar Telekom
  • Rolls-Royce
  • LONGi Green Energy Technology Co

Since the start of 2020 and throughout the pandemic, there has been marked increase in major companies setting groundbreaking, 1.5C aligned climate commitments, including:

  • Askul Corp
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • EDF Group
  • Kesco Corp
  • Klöckner & Co
  • Microsoft
  • Moody’s
  • News Corp
  • Nomura Research Institute
  • PepsiCo
  • Refinitiv
  • Sky Group
  • Symrise

 

SPECIAL EVENT: Race to Zero launch

World Environment Day sees the official launch of Race to Zero, the global COP26 campaign to mobilize leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a Healthy, Resilient, Zero Carbon recovery, which creates jobs, unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth and reduces the risk of future shocks.

More details: https://unfccc.int/event/climate-leadership-after-covid-framing-the-new-growth-agenda-for-economies-cities-businesses-and

Join live: No registration required http://ow.ly/tfnL50zWVOJ

The campaign – under the stewardship of the UN High Level Climate Champions for the UK and Chile – will rally ‘real economy’ leaders to join the largest ever coalition of leaders – from countries, businesses, cities, regions, investors, and civil society – all committed to the same overarching goal: achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.

Already covering about a third of GDP and sounding the drumbeat to COP26, the campaign aims to reframe the innovation and growth agenda in support of a healthier, more inclusive and resilient economy – and what that will take.

Alongside the UK COP26 Presidency, the Chile COP25 Presidency, and UN Climate Change, the UN High-Level Climate Champions for UK & Chile – Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz will give a platform to private sector leaders to make a range of announcements.

At this launch event we will discuss:

  • Ambitions and latest plans for COP26
  • COVID-19 & climate – the public health case for a resilient, inclusive, zero carbon economy
  • The Race to Zero campaign: major new announcements, data, and plans to drive sector-level transformation
  • Zero carbon as the new growth & leadership agenda – cities, finance & real economy pioneers

EVENT DATE AND TIME:

5 June, 12.00-13.30 BST | 07.00-08.30 ET

Nigel Topping (HL Climate Champion for UK) and Gonzalo Munoz (HL Climate Champion for Chile) will convene the event with the following participants (TBC):

  • Minister Alok Sharma, COP26 President
  • Minister Carolina Schmidt, COP25 President
  • Minister Sergio Costa (Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection)
  • Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary
  • Mark Carney, Finance Adviser for COP26
  • Dr. Maria Neira, Director of Public Health, WHO
  • Warren East, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce
  • Mark Schneider, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé

New dates agreed for COP26

The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), with the UK and its Italian partners, agreed today new dates for the COP26 UN climate conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

The agreement followed consultation with UNFCCC members, delivery partners and the international climate community. The conference was originally set to take place in November 2020, but had been postponed due to COVID-19.

In the run up to November 2021, the UK as hosts will continue to work with all involved to increase climate action, build resilience and lower emissions. The new date will also allow the UK and our Italian partners to harness our incoming G7 and G20 presidencies in driving climate ambition.

The decision on the new date comes as the UK Government announces that over 25 experts in multiple global sectors will be advising the COP26 Presidency.

The Friends of COP bring expertise from countries across six continents, including France, Barbados, Chad, Australia, India and Peru. They will advise the UK Government and inspire action from their sectors ahead of the conference.

The Friends of COP include Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action, Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

COP26 President and Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, said:

While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the Coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change. With the new dates for COP26 now agreed we are working with our international partners on an ambitious roadmap for global climate action between now and November 2021. The steps we take to rebuild our economies will have a profound impact on our societies’ future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing and COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a clean resilient recovery.

Everyone will need to raise their ambitions to tackle climate change and the expertise of the “Friends of COP” will be important in helping boost climate action across the globe.

Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Protection, Sergio Costa, said:

I am glad that consultations with Parties have made it possible to collectively and quickly agree new dates for COP26. The new dates mean the conference will be at a time when the Covid-19 tragedy will be behind us and we will be able to ensure inclusiveness, for us a fundamental prerequisite for an ambitious COP26 based on global commitment to action.

Between now and November 2021 we will take advantage of every international opportunity to increase ambition and mobilization, also harnessing the G20 under the Italian Presidency and the G7 under the British Presidency.

Carolina Schmidt Zaldívar, COP25 President and Minister of Environment of Chile said:

It is very important that we continue to push for climate action, and having quickly agreed on new dates for COP26 is a sign of this commitment. While the subsidiary body sessions (SB52) were also postponed 4-12 October 2020, the work of the Parties and stakeholders will continue through virtual meetings such as the upcoming ‘June Momentum’.

The urgency with which governments and the way in which countries promote recovery from the post-COVID-19 crisis will directly affect the other serious global crisis we are experiencing: global warming and climate change crisis. That is why we will continue to strongly mobilize all actors. We need more ambition to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to cooperate with each other.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said:

Our efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive. If done right, the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path.

We honour those who we have lost by working with renewed commitment and continuing to demonstrate leadership and determination in addressing climate change, and building a safe, clean, just and resilient world.