‘Race to Zero’ campaign updates criteria to raise the bar on net zero delivery
By Climate Champions | June 15, 2022
- UN-backed Race to Zero campaign updates its criteria following major international consultation with over 200 experts and civil society groups. Major outcomes for strengthening the criteria include:
- Making explicit the requirement for members to phase down and out all unabated fossil fuels as part of a just transition, something which was previously implicit. In practice, this means corporations and investors must restrict the development, financing, and facilitation of new fossil fuel assets, which includes no new coal projects. The exact pathways and timelines naturally differ across regions and sectors.
- Making explicit the existing requirement to publicly disclose a Transition Plan (or equivalent) within twelve months of joining Race to Zero.
- Reiterating the need for all members committing to net zero to cover all scopes of emissions, both in their interim and long-term targets. For financial institutions, this includes all financed/portfolio/facilitated emissions.
- Introducing a new criterion (“Persuade”), requiring members to align their lobbying and advocacy activities with net zero by proactively supporting climate policies at the subnational and national level consistent with the Race to Zero criteria.
- Updated criteria come into effect for new members joining the Race to Zero from Wednesday 15th June. All existing members and Partner organisations will need to meet the criteria by 15th June 2023 at the latest.
- Race to Zero and its Partners will now focus on the implementation of net zero commitments and the accountability of the organisations which have made them.
Race to Zero has published refined criteria that all campaign members must meet. The implementation of this criteria will be managed by the Partner initiatives who join the campaign through a rigorous application process, reviewed by an independent Expert Peer Review Group.
Over 200 independent experts ranging from scientists, academics, practitioners as well as campaign members and Partners came together throughout the process to discuss the key topics from finance to nature, fossil fuels to carbon credits, policy to equity and justice.
The updated criteria take effect on Wednesday 15 June 2022. New applicants are required to adopt these strengthened criteria immediately to join the campaign. Existing Partners and members will need to meet the new criteria by 15th June 2023 at the latest.
Nigel Topping and Mahmoud Mohieldin, High-level Climate Champions for COP26 & COP27, said: “The clarity these criteria provide, together with strengthened data transparency, will help us identify the progress made and gaps remaining. They will clearly show those actors who are truly moving ahead versus those who are trying to find loopholes. We urge all Race to Zero actors to keep stepping up, or risk being removed from the Race!”
Racing to integrity
The Race to Zero criteria are split into in two categories:
- ‘Starting line’ criteria lay-out minimal procedural requirements for all members in the campaign,
- ‘Leadership Practices’ which map high-ambition pathways for leading entities to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy.
The main updates to the ‘Starting Line’ criteria include:
- More explicit requirements for setting Scope 3 emissions targets, notably ensuring financial institutions address all financed/portfolio/facilitated emissions in their planning;
- Naming the implicit requirement to phase down and out unabated fossil fuels as part of a global just transition;
- Introducing a new criterion (“Persuade”) to align member policy lobbying and advocacy activities with their net zero operations;
- Requiring all members to publicly disclose a Transition Plan (or equivalent for relevant actor types).
The main themes highlighted in the ‘Leadership Practices’ are:
- Embedding nature at the heart of leadership practices, including protecting biodiversity and halting deforestation.
- Encouraging entities to go beyond their own decarbonization pathways to contribute beyond their own value chain / territory to a global net zero state.
- Empowering communities and relevant stakeholders to help accelerate their own mitigation actions in the spirit of radical collaboration and equity.
The criteria also serve as a basis for deeper work into sectoral pathways for specific actor types, such as financial institutions. Their publication arrives as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) today launches a report for consultation that proposes a common global framework for Net-Zero Transition Plans for financial institutions. This work – published alongside other resources on sectoral pathways, portfolio alignment, managed phaseout, and real economy transition planning – will help financial institutions to detail the actions they will take and the metrics and accountability mechanisms they will establish to turn their net-zero commitments into action.
Influencing the wider ecosystem
The campaign’s efforts have helped breed coordination and drive upward convergence towards best practice across the voluntary actor ecosystem. In order to accelerate the transition to a 1.5C world, voluntary efforts must now be paralleled by stronger standards and economy-wide regulations, driving net zero alignment across the economy. These criteria are already starting to influence international standard-setting and hope to set a high bar of ambition for updated standards globally. Race to Zero’s role in Our 2050 World helps directly connect these criteria to the shaping of such standards, ultimately creating stronger mechanisms to support non-state actors in delivering their commitments.
Dr Thomas Hale, Co-Chair of the Expert Peer Review Group and Associate Professor in Global Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government and Paula Ellinger, Co-Chair of the Expert Peer Review Group and Climate Action Manager at Avina, said: “The criteria consultations showed both how far the world has come on operationalizing credible net zero pathways, and how much more there is to do on implementation. We now have a much stronger consensus around what makes a company, city, region, or investor’s approach to net zero weak, acceptable, or exemplary. The challenge to them now is to sprint ahead.”
Scott Steedman, Chair of Our 2050 World Strategic Advisory Board, said: “I applaud Race to Zero’s criteria consultation process as a way for us to continue driving forwards best practice in ambitious climate action, and to help clarify concrete and implementable leadership pathways for non-state actors to race towards halving emissions by 2030. As standards bodies start shaping international standards to align with 1.5C, let us learn from this voluntary ambition and build on this progress to go further and faster together.”
What is still needed?
On the implementation of net zero commitments, Race to Zero Partners will gather next week to discuss strategies for supporting their members deliver these criteria. In addition, Race to Zero is already working with its partners to strengthen the integrity of voluntary commitments by regularly assessing its initiatives and setting up an independent compliance mechanism – to be launched in September – to promote transparency and hold members accountable to their targets.
Additional efforts are needed in the coming months to implement the needed internal process and to more systematically assess the landscape of net zero standards and regulation. Race to Zero aims to bring together key players on this journey on the road from voluntary, through standards, to regulation.
Matthew Phillips: firstname.lastname@example.org