Kicking off Race to Zero Dialogues

UN Climate Action Pathways map route from Covid recovery to resilient, zero carbon economy By Climate Champions | November 9, 2020

On the first day of the Race to Zero Dialogues, the UN High Level Climate Champions launch the Climate Action Pathways; comprehensive and granular roadmaps to exponentially achieve the Paris Agreement across 8 key sectors.

Rapid breakthroughs are pushing eight key sectors closer to the tipping points necessary to reach zero emissions by 2050 and avert the worst impacts of climate change, according to the Climate Action Pathways report, published by the UNFCCC High-Level Climate Champions and the Marrakech Partnership.

Under the leadership of the Champions, these Pathways have been produced by the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action — a global alliance of more than 320 major initiatives and coalitions — including the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Oxford University, World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization, and WWF — located across 27 countries.

Each Pathway sets out the near- and long-term milestones for limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C in the areas of energy, cities and other human settlements, industry, land use, oceans and coastal zones, transport, water and resilience. Collectively, they provide a blueprint to coordinate climate ambition among cities, regions, businesses and investors in the run up to the COP26 UN climate change conference set for Glasgow in November 2021. The 2015 Paris Agreement calls on all countries to reach net zero emissions by mid-century, and limit warming to 1.5°C.

The list of sectors embarking on the race to zero emissions is still growing, with the healthcare sector, responsible for 4.4% of net global emissions, the latest to step up. Building on National Health System England’s new ambition to reach net zero by 2040, the international organization Health Care Without Harm’s Health Care Climate Challenge is joining the Race to Zero, helping to mobilize more hospitals and health systems towards zero emissions by 2050.

Opening Day of the Race to Zero Dialogues

The Climate Action Pathways arrive as the High-Level Champions kick off the Race to Zero Dialogues, a two-week series of nearly 100 virtual events between November 9 and 19, examining how to drive the systems transformations needed to mitigate climate change, while building resilience to its impacts. The events bring together major leaders across multiple time-zones, including Heads of State, Ministers, CEOs, Mayors, Governors, and other international figures.

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “I thank the High Level Climate Champions for convening these Dialogues on the original dates of COP26. The postponement highlights the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and that climate action is more urgent than ever.”

Alok Sharma, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and COP26 President, said: “Over the next 9 days, I hope that these Race to Zero Dialogues will spark new ideas, alliances, and action which will drive progress. It’s great to see the Dialogues include such a wide range of voices, from civil society organizations, young people, businesses and investors.”

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “I believe the Race to Zero campaign – and these Dialogues — are essential to creating the necessary momentum leading to a successful COP26. While our race to achieve zero emissions is a formidable challenge, these Dialogues show that together, we can work towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and unleash its full potential.”

Examples from the Climate Action Pathways’ roadmap to a zero-carbon economy

Gonzalo Muñoz, the Chilean High-Level Climate Champion, said: “Achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement requires us to undertake a major transition, from where we are today to where we need to be by 2050. The journey is challenging and time is short. For both these reasons, it is vital that we have a clear map of the route ahead.”


  • Green hydrogen: 25 GW of capacity under construction, achieving $1.5/kg, with investment of at least US$100 billion by 2025
  • 90 utilities and developers and eight major oil and gas companies adopting verified net-zero commitments aligned to 1.5°C and in 2021
  • Building on growth in generation from wind and solar technologies already on Paris-compliant trajectories, with renewables cheaper to build than fossil fuel power plants in 85% of the world


  • Retailers increase sales of circular products by 50% and transition their entire large-goods vehicle fleets to 100% zero carbon by 2030
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (or packaged goods) companies ensure zero deforestation from their sourcing of major commodities, cut waste by 50% within their own operations and from consumers, and sales of circular and plant-based products increase by 50% by 2030
  • Problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging is eliminated (100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable) by 2025


  • Markets commit to 100% zero emission vehicles by 2035
  • 10 industrial-scale zero carbon ship demonstration projects realized by 2025
  • 85% of CO2 emission reductions needed to meet the 1.5°C target achieved with existing and emerging policies and technologies, such as electrification and efficiency improvement

Human Settlements:

  • All new buildings operate at net zero carbon and are resilient to future projected climate shocks by 2030
  • Widespread energy efficient retrofit of existing buildings is well underway by 2030, with increased renovation rates to net-zero carbon standards of at least 3% per year
  • 70% of cumulative CO2 emission reductions in the built environment can be achieved by deploying solutions available on the market today


  • Overfishing and destructive fishing practices are ended by 2021, and science-based management is implemented to restore fish stocks in the shortest time possible
  • 30% of fully and highly protected Marine Protected Areas are designated and implemented by 2030
  • Increased resilience and adaptive capacity of ocean-dependent coastal communities (fisheries and aquaculture) and vulnerability assessments conducted by 2025
  • Stable market of zero-carbon fuels by 2030


  • Double the share of sustainable renewable energy used in water extraction, supply, treatment and reuse by 2025
  • Water and wastewater utilities fully decarbonised and climate resilience improved through climate risk management by 2030
  • 30% of Earth’s water-related natural ecosystems are protected and restored by 2030

Nature-Based Solutions & Land Use:

  • Full 37% contribution of the land-use sector to the Paris Agreement by 2050
  • Loss and degradation of remaining primary forests and other natural terrestrial ecosystems dropped by 70% by 2030, with deforestation ended by 2025
  • Finance for nature-based solutions reaching US$100 billion/year by 2030


  • Early warning systems in place for 1 billion people in developing countries and cities have heatwave action plans in place by 2025
  • By 2025, risk finance and insurance provided to 500 million vulnerable people
  • US$6.9 trillion annually invested in infrastructure is more climate resilient and 600 million slum dwellers resilient and lifted out of poverty by 2030

COP27: Day 10

Across the two weeks, non-State actors offered a wide range of actions, announcements, and events across thematic areas. This included the launch of the African Cities Water Adaptation Fund, an African-led insurance commitment to provide cover for up to USD 14 billion in climate losses, and the Sharm-El-Sheik Adaptation Agenda in partnership with the COP27 Presidency.