All eyes on governments as Race to Zero picks up pace
On the eve of the US-hosted Leaders’ Summit on Climate, the business community is looking to governments to set ambitious national plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 years that will accelerate the green recovery.
Since the launch of Race to Zero on World Environment Day 2020, 3,591 companies, cities, states, regions and universities have joined the campaign, growing the largest alliance of non-state actors galvanizing to deliver the promise of the Paris Agreement.
The US is now the second largest country, after the UK, for corporate climate action. Currently, 301 of its companies are credibly committed to net zero via the Race to Zero campaign, which has grown by 20% in the last month alone – a figure set to rise further still as more and more companies realise the business case for the transition to a zero carbon economy.
Many of the biggest companies – such as Netflix, Walmart, Visa and Twitter Inc – have joined via the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign, which now totals over 500 companies with a market capitalization of US$13tn.
And it’s not just large multinationals that are rapidly participating. The SME Climate Hub has grown by over 645% since its launch at the Climate Ambition Summit in December (from 113 to 845) as climate action expands across global supply chains.
Finance actors are also pivoting to fund the transition, as the number of investors has more than tripled, growing by almost 50% in the last month alone. Asset managers representing over $22.8 trillion of assets under management (AUM) joined the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative last month, and the initiative now has a total of 87 signatories representing $37 trillion in assets under management (AUM), over 36% of the global total.
Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, 2,162 companies, 708 cities, 23 regions, 127 investors, and 571 universities qualified to join the Race to Zero. Commenting on this, Gonzalo Munoz, Chilean High Level Climate Champion for COP25, said: “We were thrilled last year by the sheer scale of climate ambition that companies, cities, regions, investors and universities showed despite the global pandemic – and the pace of the race shows no signs of slowing down. Thousands of non-state actors are determined to create a zero carbon world and cut emissions in line with climate science. With governments stepping up with stronger climate policies, and financial actors pivoting to the fund the transition, the shift to a zero carbon economy is well underway.”
A clear signal to governments
This growing momentum towards a decarbonized economy is critical in the run up to COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement.
While still seven months until the pivotal Glasgow conference, the rising number of Race to Zero participants gives a clear signal to governments that the transition to a decarbonized economy is underway and picking up pace.
As net zero commitments grow, pressure is mounting on countries to translate these pledges into credible policies as soon as possible. A UNFCCC report in January found nations were “nowhere close” to the level of action needed to fight global heating. The report – “a red alert for our planet” – urges countries to adopt stronger and more ambitious plans to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals. Latest climate modelling shows that at least halving emissions by 2030 is achievable, and provides strong economic benefits.
All eyes now turn to tomorrow’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate, where President Biden will call on major economies to join him in bold action at the virtual gathering of 40 world leaders, having announced the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The Summit follows an open letter signed by US companies to the President indicating their support for the Biden administration’s commitment to climate action, and for setting a federal climate target to reduce emissions. The letter demonstrates the US business and investor communities’ strong support for a highly ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target, or NDC, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Signatories include some of the largest companies in the US, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Ford, McDonald’s, Google, Nike and Starbucks.