A new call for multilateralism

“We can’t tackle the climate crisis without multilateralism.” UN Race to Zero Dialogues finale calls for newfound inclusivity By Climate Champions | November 23, 2020

The UN Race to Zero Dialogues wrapped-up this week, a 9-day event series, which featured more than 300 speakers from 65 countries, examining how to drive the transformations needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and build resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Speakers at the closing event on Thursday included the Prime Ministers of Iceland, Bhutan and Bangladesh, as well as the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who said: “There is no way we are going to tackle a new economy and tackle the climate crisis without cooperation and multilateralism. I do believe there is hope, but we need to work fast and together.”

Race to Zero Dialogues drive sectoral transformation

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa said: “It is very clear by now that the deep transformations we need in the world cannot be delivered by governments alone. They require everyone on board.”

The Dialogues demonstrated how to drive these transformations across eight key sectors of the global economy, drawing on a key Climate Action Pathways report released at the beginning of the series of events.

Race to Zero Dialogues foster urgency

Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, said: “The time to take action to save the planet is not tomorrow, but today. Only by unified global action we can overcome the impending crisis.”

This sense of urgency was further underscored by the State of Climate Action report published this Thursday by the World Resources Institute and ClimateWorks Foundation. The report reveals that maintaining historical rates of progress will be highly insufficient to achieve net zero by 2050.

The Dialogues concluded with the launch of the Sustainable Energy for All Energizing Finance report, which found that achieving universal access to sustainable energy by 2030 will determine whether the world reaches net zero carbon by 2050.

Energizing Finance was one of a series of findings that emerged during the two weeks of events, which provided greater understanding of what is needed, what is possible and what is already happening in the race to zero emissions.

Other speakers at the Dialogues included Cardinal Turkson, US Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, Matt Damon, and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom. Throughout, youth representatives challenged leaders to set the agenda and hold to account executives from sectors including oil & gas and aviation, urging them to clarify how companies’ commitments are being translated into concrete action, strategy, investment decisions and daily operations.

Key findings and outcomes from the Race to Zero Dialogues


  • Health Care Climate Challenge from Healthcare Without Harm joined the Race to Zero as a health care partner, working to mobilize hospitals and health systems around the world to join the Race to Zero too.
  • Launch of Pathfinder Initiative to map healthy climate solutions. Led by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the initiative aims to show how the implementation of well-designed policies and technologies that both improve health and address climate change can yield multiple benefits for people and the planet.


  • In fashion, leading multi-stakeholder groups, producers and brands committed to producing a shared decarbonization roadmap and discussed an achievable and just approach to reducing emissions by 45 percent by 2030 with the UNFCCC Fashion Charter.
  • British Retail Consortium released their Climate Roadmap, setting out a vision for the UK retail sector of net zero by 2040, with 60+ signatories.


  • Shipping: Launch of the Getting to Zero Coalition’s Blueprint for Large-Scale System Demonstration Projects. This is a key step in achieving large-scale demonstration projects by 2025 and reaching commercialized zero-emission shipping by 2030.
  • Trucking: Launch of the Road Freight Zero coalition, an important step on the path to net zero emissions as it will focus on the near-term action needed to advance the deployment of zero emission fleets and infrastructure for long-haul by 2030.

Human Settlements

  • C40 Cities, CDP and the Global Covenant of Mayors announced a new partnership to mobilize 1,000 cities to join the Race to Zero in time for the UN’s COP26 summit in Glasgow in 2021, in collaboration with the Science-Based Target for Cities.


  • UK energy utilities SSE (a Big Six provider) and Good Energy joined Race to Zero.
  • The CA100+ investor initiative, whose members are two-thirds of annual global industrial emissions, launched a consultation on a strategy for decarbonizing the power sector.


  • Water UK, which represents the country’s major water companies, and Aguas Andinas, Chile’s largest water utility, committed to cut their emissions to net zero by 2030.


  • The Blue Climate Initiative launched the Innovation Challenge, a prize to promote innovative solutions in the nexus of oceans and climate.

Nature Based Solutions & Land Use

  • New research by UNEP-WCMC with IIASA, IIS, SDSN and other collaborators in the Nature Map initiative found that conserving 30 per cent of land in strategic locations could safeguard 500 gigatonnes of carbon stored in vegetation and soils – around half the world’s vulnerable terrestrial carbon stocks – and reduce the extinction risk of nearly nine out of 10 threatened terrestrial species.
  • The Green Gigaton Challenge, a new global initiative that was launched Thursday 19th, aims to boost the contribution from forests to close the emission gap, ensure biodiversity conservation and a green recovery from Covid-19, and to deliver its first gigaton of high-quality emission reductions by COP26.


Watch highlights from the Race to Zero Dialogues.


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.