Accelerating net zero action by activating policy 

By Race to Zero, Climate Champions, and co-contributors | December 13, 2022

Reaching net zero by 2050 requires emissions to be halved by 2030. Throughout COP27, non-State actors in the Race to Zero – from businesses, cities, regions, financial institutions, education and healthcare institutions – showcased how they are contributing to reaching this goal.

However, action by non-State actors alone is not sufficient to keep global warming to 1.5C. We need an acceleration of the right kind of policies, standards and regulations.

In order to accelerate net zero policies, in June, the Race to Zero updated its science-aligned, net zero criteria. Building on the ‘4Ps’ of the Race to Zero campaign (Pledge, Plan, Proceed and Publish), a 5th was added – ‘Persuade’. This new criterion requires the 11,000+ non-State actors who took to the start line of the race, to “align their external policy and engagement” with net zero goals (by June 2023).

About the 5th

Why is this 5th P important?

  • First, it recognises the responsibility of non-State actors to undertake policy engagement and trade association participation, in line with halving global emissions by 2030, and net zero by 2050 (at the latest).
  • Second, it reflects the need for a positive ambition loop – where corporates, investors and other non-State actors positively influence governments to go further and faster on climate action. For sub-national governments, this also includes their role as policy makers in line with specific jurisdictional powers.
  • Third, it suggests that while a voluntary campaign like Race to Zero has mobilised climate action, non-State actors have a role in shaping 1.5C aligned standards, policies and regulation. Enhancing the regulatory landscape, will help to level the playing field and ensure appropriate investment (see the Race to Zero convened Pivot Point Report). The release of the High Level Expert Group’s report on net zero emissions by non-State actors, Integrity Matters, reinforces the importance of net zero aligned policy, and regulation.

Implementing the 5th

What are Race to Zero’s actors already doing to implement the 5th P? Recently, Race to Zero hosted an internal webinar with its 26 Partners and 20 Accelerators of the campaign, to explore how the 5th P will be implemented across its 11,000+ companies, cities, regions, financial, education and healthcare institutions. We found that many of our Partners, and their members, are already leading the way in persuasion.


Race to Zero Partner, Japan Climate Initiative, recently released a joint statement with nearly 300 endorsements, calling on the Japanese Government to have an emission reduction of 45% or more by 2030. This was later adopted by Japan’s NDC. They also released a joint statement with 300 endorsements encouraging the government to develop a clean energy strategy to enable 40-50% renewable energy share by 2030.

Business Declares have recently launched their campaigns page, which showcases their advocacy and campaigning efforts, supported by their business members, to inspire urgent action to tackle the climate, ecological and social emergency. For example, Business Declares, alongside 24 of their business members and five conservation charities featured in the Financial Times with the objective to galvanise authentic political and business leadership on the climate and biodiversity crises.


Aviva Investors (member of Race to Zero Partner, Net Zero Asset Managers), for instance, has recently released an ambitious plan to reset and repurpose the global financial architecture to place climate action at its heart. The necessary changes might be brought about through harnessing momentum for a “Bretton Woods 2 moment” to reset the work and focus of not only the World Bank and IMF, but also the regulatory and supervisory architecture that governs and oversees finance. This is a major piece of work, that preempted a COP which had strong calls for structural reform of international financial architecture, to better serve climate and development goals.

A coalition including Cities Race to Zero member representatives called on national governments to recognise the transformative power of doubling public transport usage and delivering a just transition to zero-emission transport by 2030, as an economic, social, public health and climate solution. Since then, Jakarta’s city government has almost doubled public transport coverage, from 42% to 82% between 2017 and 2021, contributing to a shift of 9.3% from cars and 21.7% from motorcycles to Bus Rapid Transit. Remarkably, the city is on track to provide 95% of all residents with public transport access within 500 metres of their home by the end of this year.


Delivering policy action and engagement aligned with the 5th P was an important aspect of many non-State actors’ action at COP27.

Using the power of their collective voices, over 250 non-State actors, from business and civil society, signed a letter calling on governments to align their implementation plans with 1.5C in recognition that this is a limit not a target. The letter was presented to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary by Maria Mendlucce from We Mean Business.

Race to Zero’s Campaign Manager, Fiona Macklin, spoke at the launch of Corporate Knight’s Action Declaration on Climate Policy Engagement, where 57 global companies committed to supporting climate action aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Another initiative was Exponential Roadmap Initiative , WeDontHaveTime, and UNDPs  We Can Do it Campaign. Signatories, including Johan Rockström, Nigel Topping, Maria Mendiluce and CEOs from Nordic and other world leading companies committed “to do everything we can to make sure all policy influencing within our organisations promotes a rapid shift to a fossil-free economy.” Some 686 representatives, from 56 countries representing 286 billion dollars in yearly revenue, have already signed up to this campaign, which is growing fast. The initiative was inspired by a Swedish campaign where more than 220 companies – together accounting for almost one-fifth of the country’s GDP – undersigned an opinion piece urging Swedish politicians to focus on the great business opportunities of the climate transition instead of treating it as mainly a problem.

Beyond that, the We Mean Business Coalition are working on responsible policy engagement (RPE) and setting up an RPE Taskforce (which the Climate Champions Team will take part in) to map and integrate existing tools for corporates engaging responsibly with climate policy. Complimenting these efforts, InfluenceMap also brings a wealth of insight on how companies can strategically engage on climate policy, by securing C-suite level buy-in and using the whole playbook of high-level messaging and detailed engagement through regulatory affairs teams.

Call to action 

Civil society organisations are effective stakeholders in advocating and mobilizing around 1.5°C aligned government policies. Race to Zero calls on our members to work collaboratively with civil society organisations because the power of radical collaboration cannot be underestimated.

Race to Zero also calls on those who are not already in the Race, to join us. In 2023, we  look forward to working with our 26 Partners, 20 Accelerators and 11,000+ members to operationalise our 5th P and activate net zero aligned policy. We will be developing a Handbook of case studies, and best practice on the 5th P, across different actor-types, and we encourage you to take part. Everyone has a role to play to accelerate the right kinds of policies, standards and regulations – to help us achieve the Paris Agreement and a fairer, healthier, zero carbon world.

To provide a case study or insights for Race to Zero’s 5th P, contact:

Key resources and links from co-contributors are in the blog, and below: 

  • We Mean Business, together with its extended network of partners, catalyses business and policy action to halve emissions by 2030 and accelerate an inclusive transition to a net zero economy.
  • InfluenceMap is a global think-tank producing data-driven assessments of corporate climate policy engagement and IPCC science. InfluenceMap tracks the activity of over 400 companies and 200 major industry associations, and is therefore a unique resource for aiding Race to Zero members in activating the 5th P.
  • The Exponential Roadmap Initiative has integrated the 5Ps in its 2023 Climate Performance Review Criteria for its existing and new members, which is based on the 1.5°CBusiness Playbook.



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