UN Climate Change
Global Climate Action
12 December 2020
Race to Zero
The Promise of 2020
In amongst the shock, hardships and pain felt round the world, we can also bid goodbye to 2020 feeling hopeful and energized about the decade ahead.
In the midst of lockdowns and economic collapse, 2020 was the year in which some of the largest countries, businesses and investors with high emissions set their sights on cutting emissions to net zero by mid-century: from China, South Korea, Japan, the EU, Canada and South Africa, to asset owners and managers, to tech giants and industrial heavyweights, to hundreds of cities and regions.

Recognizing that building resilience to withstand and recover from the impacts of climate change goes hand-in-hand with mitigation, we are rolling out the Race to Resilience on 25 January. The sibling to Race to Zero, this campaign will drive cities, regions, businesses, investors and others to build resilience over the next decade for the 4 billion people who are now most vulnerable to impacts like extreme weather, poverty and hunger and pandemics.

Members of the Race to Zero are responsible for over 12 percent of the economy, giving an added private sector and local government boost to national efforts in the run-up to next year’s COP 26. The impact is visible: total commitments to net zero now cover at least 68 percent of the global economy (US$84.6 billion), over half the population and nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions, according to new analysis by Oxford-ECIU. That’s up from half the global GDP and a quarter of emissions when the Race to Zero launched in June.

The fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement last Saturday marked another surge in climate ambition, at the Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the UN, UK and France, in partnership with Italy and Chile. Forty-five countries presented strengthened targets for 2030, 24 announced net-zero goals and 20 set out new plans to build resilience. Among the stand-outs, Pakistan said it will stop building coal-fired power plants, the UK will stop financing overseas fossil fuel projects, Barbados aims to be fossil fuel-free by 2030, Colombia will more than halve its emissions by 2030 and Canada will raise its carbon taxes to C$170 per tonne by 2030. 

The ambition is clearly growing. If fulfilled, net zero commitments announced as of November would limit warming by 2.1°C - the closest we’ve ever been to meeting the Paris goals, according to Climate Action Tracker.

We want to thank all of you who worked tirelessly this year - through lockdown disruptions - towards ambitious climate action, including making the Race to Zero a success. We wouldn’t be ending 2020 with such potential if it wasn’t for your dedication to creating a carbon-free economy and climate-resilient societies!

But of course, the work continues. 2021 is all about turning the promise of commitments into tangible results that improve the lives of people around the world, by creating sustainable jobs and industries; providing affordable access to clean energy, water, food and sanitation; reducing health risks and costs; and building resilience.

We wish you, your families and your loved ones all the best for the holidays and new year, and look forward to pumping up the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience next year! 
Caring for Climate
Business leaders from around the world - ranging from small and medium enterprises like Valentina Mintah, founder of West Blue Consulting, to Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever - came together last week to share their learnings and best practice from years of science-based climate action.

Panelists at the eighth annual High-Level Meeting of Caring for Climate, co-hosted by the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme, UN Climate Change and the High-Level Champions, reflected on progress in the five years since the Paris Agreement was signed, explored the links between climate action and Covid-19 recovery, and highlighted how inclusive multilateralism and radical collaboration will deliver the Paris goals.

The event included the launch of the Green Hydrogen Catapult, a global coalition that will accelerate the scale and production of green hydrogen 50-fold in the next six years, helping to transform the world’s most carbon intensive industries, including power generation, chemicals, steelmaking and shipping. The initiative will see green hydrogen industry leaders, including ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Snam, and Yara, target the deployment of 25 gigawatts through 2026 of renewables-based hydrogen production, with a view to halve the current cost of hydrogen to below US$2 per kilogram.
In Case You Missed It...
The Paris Effect: reason for hope: The impacts of climate change have accelerated since 2015, while action has been slower to ramp up. But we’ve come a long way in the last five years, too, as Systemiq’s important report makes clear. Low-carbon solutions could be competitive in 75 percent of sectors by 2030, compared to zero in 2015 and low-carbon growth this decade will generate over 35 million jobs.

The Prelude to a Great Regeneration: Cementing 2020 as the turning point in climate action, and halving emissions while regenerating nature by 2030, requires a step-change in the way we approach our work - individually, as organizations and as a global collective. In its parting gift, the Mission 2020 campaign sets out a vision - composed from interviews and workshops - of how we can turn the 2020s into the era of Great Regeneration. And here’s more from Mission 2020 CEO Andrew Higham and the Outrage & Optimism podcast.

Asset managers for net zero: In resounding support for the race to zero emissions, a group of 30 asset managers with more than $9 trillion under management have committed to full decarbonization by 2050 or sooner. The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative will now work with asset owner clients to set their own targets, set interim targets for their assets under management and review (with a view to raise) those interim targets every five years.

Climate Action Tables: Building on the Climate Action Pathways, which set out routes to net zero across key sectors, the Action Tables provide concrete steps each actor can take over specific time periods, listing initiatives that help them achieve those actions and how they support the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yearbook of Global Climate Action: The number of actions registered in the UN’s Global Climate Action Portal - where governments, businesses, investors and others can submit their commitments - grew to more than 27,000 from 18,000+ actors as of November 2020. Net zero commitments from local governments and corporations nearly doubled over the year, according to the 2020 edition of the Global Climate Action Yearbook. Going forward, the Marrakech Partnership will follow three core guidelines: follow the science, take a systems approach and foster vitalized cooperation.  
UN Climate Change | Global Climate Action | Race to Zero | GlobalClimateAction@unfccc.int | unfccc.int