What is Race to Zero?

Our beloved planet is getting warmer and CO2 emissions urgently need to be decreased. It’s a race against time but also a race with ourselves, as we need to act now to reduce our carbon emissions. This is the Race to Zero, which we can win together.

What is Race to Zero?

Race to Zero (R2Z), launched by the United Nations in June 2020, is a global sustainability program that aims to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  It’s described by the UN as “the largest 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”. The goals of the program are based on the Paris Agreement target which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial temperature levels.

So far, R2Z has already mobilized 3067 businesses, 733 cities, 173 investors, 31 regions, 624 educational institutions and 37 healthcare institutions and is constantly growing. It is also part of the Climate Ambition Alliance , which was launched during the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit 2019 and to which 120 countries are participating. By joining forces together, R2Z members aim to accelerate the shift towards a more resilient, inclusive and decarbonized economy. It is an exciting project which gives an extra-boost to decarbonizing and sustainability-related initiatives, while simultaneously sending a strong worldwide signal about the urgency of the climate crisis. 

What’s the plan?

Reaching climate neutrality (or even better, becoming climate positive) is an ambitious target that needs strong planning and commitment. There is therefore a rigorous set of criteria that needs to be met by R2Z participants, in addition to a yearly follow-up by independent experts.

The first set of criteria that needs to be fulfilled is called the Starting line and is referred to as the Four P’s:

  • Pledge: Pledge at the head-of-organization level to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 °C.
  • Plan: Within 12 months of joining, explain what actions will be taken toward achieving both interim and long-term pledges, especially in the short- to medium-term.
  • Proceed: Take immediate action toward achieving zero, consistent with delivering interim targets specified.
  • Publish: Commit to publicly report progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as actions being taken, at least annually.

The remaining set of guidelines, known as Leadership practices, indicates in which areas the members need to reach current best-practices, in addition to suggesting further improvements. These criteria are peer-reviewed annually and ensure the quality and credibility of the program, in addition to motivating members to continuously push their ambitions forward. They are divided as follows:

  • Scope: Targets must cover all greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Sink and credits: In the transition to zero, prioritize reducing emissions and limit any residual emissions to those that are not feasible to eliminate. Sinks or credits need to be clearly specified. Encourage immediate contributions to the preservation and restoration of natural sinks.
  • Empowerment and equity: Seek to enable all actors to contribute to the global transition toward net zero through engagement, information sharing, access to finance, and capacity building.

To ensure that the criteria are up to date with the current challenges that our world is facing, the project guidelines and sets of criteria were updated during the spring 2021, with the help of the University of Oxford. More than 200 participants took part into the discussion, including experts from various regions and subjects.

Hows it going?

One year since the launch of the program, R2Z has seen some exciting initiatives flourishing and growing in diverse sectors, ranging all the way from fashion, energy, nature and transportation to many other industries. In addition, an exciting twin program has been running simultaneously: the Race to Resilience.

And now that COP26 in Glasgow is approaching, it’s more important than ever to speak up and raise awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Sustainable and decarbonizing initiatives need all the support they can get to enable a shift toward a healthier and carbon-neutral world in time.

And you too can join the race, why not start with a Deed?

Read more at:
Race to Zero

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