UN Climate Change
Global Climate Action
19 January 2020
Race to Zero
Racing to Zero and Resilience Together
At the Same Time
We enter 2021 amid worry, uncertainty and weariness from the seemingly relentless Covid-19 virus. The pandemic has laid bare the fragility of our systems, from public health, to global supply chains, to jobs and industries.

But it has also made clear what the world needs to strive for as we roll out vaccines and recover from the health and economic shock of a generation: resilience. Resilience to future health, economic or environmental disruptions will be the foundation of our Marshall Plan to build back to a healthier, safer, cleaner and more secure future. 

“The race to resilience is as important as the race to net zero,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in December. “There can be no separating climate action from the larger planetary picture. Everything is interlinked - the global commons and global wellbeing.” 
This is why we’re starting 2021 by kicking off the Race to Resilience, a sibling campaign to the Race to Zero, which will work with partner initiatives to drive cities, regions, businesses, investors and others to build resilience by 2030 for 4 billion people who are vulnerable to climate risks such as extreme heat, drought, flooding and sea level rise.

Building climate resilience means helping communities, businesses and economies better prepare for, recover from, and thrive in spite of the impacts of climate change. It means protecting and restoring our global commons - the air, water, forests, oceans and mangroves that keep us alive. It means, for example, choosing crops that will resist droughts or floods and setting policies in favour of the jobs and industries that protect, rather than endanger, public health.

Within the decade, the Race to Resilience will transform urban slums into healthy, clean and safe cities; equip smallholder farmers with the tools and skills needed to adapt to climate change; and protect coastal homes and businesses. 

The Race for Resilience will be officially introduced at the Climate Adaptation Summit on 25-26 January, hosted by the Netherlands. The summit will also see the launch of the new Adaptation Action Coalition, by the UK with its partners the Netherlands, Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, St Lucia and The United Nations. The summit will also see a new Adaptation Action Agenda, a framework to propel work to adapt and build resilience to climate change by 2030.
The Case for Resilience
The outlook for life without it is bleak, according to the Global Commission on Adaptation. Over 100 million people in developing countries could slip below the poverty line by the end of this decade. The number of people who could lack sufficient water, at least one month per year, will soar to 5 billion by 2050, from 3.6 billion today. Rising seas and stronger storms could force millions of people in coastal cities to flee their homes, adding $1 trillion per year in costs for urban areas by 2050.

These impacts are already unfolding. 2020 is tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record worldwide, marking the sixth exceptionally warm year in a row, according to the World Meteorological Organization and Copernicus Climate Changer Service. It was Europe’s warmest ever recorded. The Arctic and Siberia saw unusually destructive wildfires as temperatures rose by as much as 3-6°C above average, while Arctic sea ice dropped significantly below average in summer months.

Natural catastrophes in 2020 inflicted a record US$210 billion in losses worldwide, up from $166 billion in 2019, according to insurer Munich RE. Six out of the 10 costliest disasters took place in the US, including tropical storms and wildfires. China experienced the single costliest event - summer floods - while India and Bangladesh sustained the worst tropical cyclone.

The cost of adapting to climate change is growing too. For developing countries, it could reach US$ 300 billion in 2030 and $500 billion in 2050, from $70 billion today, according to the UN Environment Programme’s Adaptation Gap Report. Financing for adaptation still falls far short of what is needed. But there is a way out: cutting emissions will reduce both the impacts and costs of climate change, the report said.
Breaking Through to Zero Carbon
Now that 70 percent of global GDP is covered by goals for net zero emissions, it’s inevitable that every sector will transform exponentially - just like the transitions from horses to cars and from analog to digital, with most of the technology we use today.

Exponential change is already happening in many key sectors of the economy, often driven by Race to Zero partners. From zero-carbon vehicles to regenerative agriculture, solving these challenges will create economic and societal advantages for the countries, cities and companies who emerge as leaders.

In 2021, the Race to Zero will be challenging its members to keep powering ahead and driving for bigger and faster breakthroughs. Stay tuned for more soon. 
In Case You Missed It...
  • The UN’s central objective this year is to “build a global coalition for carbon neutrality by the middle of the century”, Guterres said in his first speech of 2021.
  • The UN Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance has published its protocol for members to set their first interim emissions reduction targets of 16-29 percent by 2025.
  • The Investor Forum, which collectively manages £20 trillion in assets, called for an annual, non-binding shareholder vote on company climate plans.
  • The International Energy Agency will in May publish the first comprehensive roadmap for reaching net zero emissions across the global energy sector by 2050, Executive Director Fatih Birol announced
  • An accelerated energy transition could push oil to peak by 2025 and reduce emissions by 1.1 percent per year, McKinsey’s Global Energy Perspective finds.
  • China’s national emissions trading scheme is expected to launch in mid-2021, Reuters reports, citing China’s Securities Times.
  • The African Development Bank has pledged to mobilize US$6.5 billion to support Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative over the next five years.
  • Britain’s Prince Charles is urging countries to join the new Terra Carta - an Earth charter that aims to raise £7.3 billion to invest in the natural world, BBC reports.
Mark Your Calendars
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