UN Climate Change
Global Climate Action
29 September 2020
Race to Zero
Double The Net Zero Commitments
The number of commitments to reach net zero emissions has doubled in less than a year, with many in the Race to Zero by 2050. According to a report by the Data-Driven EnviroLab and the NewClimate Institute, published during Climate Week NYC last week, that includes cities and regions covering more than the combined GDP of Japan, India and the UK, and companies with a combined revenue of over $11.4 trillion (equivalent to more than half of the US GDP). This shows that climate action has continued unimpeded by Covid-19.

Key findings include:

  • Europe is the region with the biggest number of city and regional net zero pledges, followed by Latin America in second and East Asia and the Pacific third.
  • In Australia, the commitments by states and territories cover more than 95 percent of the country’s population.
  • Companies in consumer-centric sectors are leading the way among business, followed by industrials. Real estate companies, however, still have room to accelerate.
Now we implement.
Commitments are the necessary and crucial first step. But the challenge is to follow through by making the changes needed to get there. So far, 43 percent of the local governments committed to net zero have released action plans, and a quarter have incorporated the targets into policies and legislation.
Largest Economies Transform
China steps up.

If China achieves its new goal for climate neutrality before 2060, it will lower global warming projections by up to 0.3°C, to 2.5°C, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker. It would also “make China richer,” as the huge investments required would raise China’s GDP by as much as 5 percent later this decade and drive lower costs for clean energy around the world, Carbon Brief reported. It is technically possible for China to become a fully developed, rich zero-carbon economy by 2050, the Energy Transition Commission and Rocky Mountain Institute found in a report last year. The transition would cost less than 1 percent of GDP and add only a minor cost to consumer prices.
Some companies are already forging ahead: China’s renewable energy companies LONGi Solar, Envision Energy and Sungrow this month launched the RE100 China Pathfinder Pledge, which appeals for more Chinese companies to join them in the global RE100 initiative and switch to 100 percent renewable power.
America delivers.

Bottom-up leadership from US states and cities and a pivotal shift in market forces have helped push the country to an irreversible tipping point in the clean energy transition, according to the new America’s Pledge report.
One in three Americans now live in a jurisdiction committed to reaching 100 percent clean electricity, up from just 33 cities and Hawaii three years ago. Meanwhile, the country’s electric vehicles market has doubled — and will likely receive a boost from California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision last week to ban sales of gasoline-fuelled vehicles by 2035. In further signs of transformation, the US Beyond Coal campaign has retired 60 percent of coal-fired power plants in the country, double the original goal set in 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sierra Club announced
Follow The Money Trail
Some of the most far-reaching shifts towards zero carbon have come from the finance sector this year. Ahead of the pack is the UN Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last week. In that time, the alliance has grown to 29 institutional investors with nearly $5 trillion in assets under management (from 12 investors and $2.4 trillion under management) — all working to fully decarbonize their portfolios by 2050.
In response to this year’s economic collapse, the Asset Owner Alliance urged governments to ensure that their recovery packages help reduce emissions in line with a 1.5°C warming limit. Green stimulus is likely to be a bigger jobs multiplier than conventional spending, the alliance argued, with a shift from brown to green spending expected to add five jobs per million dollars of spending. Elsewhere in the sector…
Climate Action 100+, the world’s largest investor-corporate engagement initiative — including three-quarters of the Asset Owner Alliance, in September called on the CEOs and chairs of 161 of the largest greenhouse gas-emitting companies to set net zero targets and plans. It also informed CEOs that their companies will be publicly assessed on progress towards net zero emissions from 2021. Fifty of those companies have said they will aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change started building a framework to guide asset owners and managers on maximizing their work towards net zero emissions by 2050, including how they engage with businesses and policymakers and shift their investments. 
Mark your calendars
Science Based Targets Initiative: It will release its own framework for financial institutions to adopt science-based targets for emissions reductions during an event on October 1, at 9-10am ET/ 2-3pm BST.
Daring Cities: ICLEI’s global forum for urban leaders taking on the climate crisis runs from October 7 to 28.
TED Countdown: The global initiative to champion and accelerate climate solutions kicks off on October 10, with this impressive line-up of speakers throughout the day.
Climate Hub 360: UN Climate Change has launched a visual events platform to track key events between now and COP26 in November 2021. 
In Case You Missed it...
Small businesses join the race too: Small and medium enterprises, responsible for 90 percent of business and 2 billion employees, can now join the Race to Zero through the SME Climate Hub, launched by the International Chamber of Commerce, the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and We Mean Business.
New members include Colombian pharmaceuticals company Corporacion Punto Azul from Colombia, Argentinian manufacturer Dandy Buenos Aires, Mexican manufacturer Orestia, India’s EKI Energy Services and Ghanaian wholesale and retail trader Seebel Limited.
Net zero is ‘technically and economically possible’: And it will be led by electrification, complemented by hydrogen, sustainable biomass and fossil fuels, combined with carbon capture, the Energy Transitions Commission found in its Making Mission Possible report. Coal and oil demand would each fall by just over 90 percent in the next 30 years, it found.
How to protect nature, in line with science: The loss of nature directly threatens economic activities that currently help generate over half the global GDP. This guidance, by the Science Based Targets Network, sets out what companies can do to help protect and preserve nature, and avert those risks.
Chile’s largest water utility aims for 2030: Aguas Andinas became the first and only water utility in the world to commit to reduce its emissions in line with a 1.5°C limit by 2030, working with the Science Based Targets Initiative. In doing so, the company will prevent people in Santiago de Chile from emitting more than 76,000 tons of CO per year, and reduce total emissions equal to 12.7 million car trips per year.
UN Climate Change | Global Climate Action | Race to Zero | GlobalClimateAction@unfccc.int | unfccc.int