Q&A: Race to Zero 2022 Criteria Consultation process

By Climate Champions | March 9, 2022

To help accelerate meaningful progress towards halving global emissions by 2030, and to ensure the integrity of the campaign, Race to Zero established a minimum floor for robust net zero commitments.

This included introducing the Starting Line Criteria (known as the 4 P’s, requiring members to Pledge, Plan, Proceed and Publish, as well as conditions on scope, sinks and credits, and equity and empowerment), as well as publishing an interpretation guide and a lexicon. All members are managed by their relevant Partner initiative to meet these criteria.

Race to Zero has committed to annually strengthen, clarify and update these criteria documents (including the interpretation guide and lexicon (last updated April 2021) – a process supported by the Expert Peer Review Group – to continue driving upward convergence toward the continually evolving frontier of  best practice around net zero targets.

To find out more about what this process aims to achieve (and what lies outside of its scope), dive into our Q&A below.

I/ The Process – what it is, and what it is not. 

It is…

  • an independent, annual process designed to strengthen and clarify the existing Race to Zero criteria.

It is not

  • a process of shifting the goalposts and starting again from scratch to agree on new criteria for the campaign’s members each year.

It is…

  • a process driven by experts and practitioners – including Race to Zero Partners and members, as well as those not connected to the campaign – from around the world with diverse expertise (across regions, sectors, actor types and age).

It is not

  • an internal exercise of asking the Champions and our Partners to ‘mark our own homework’.

It is…

  • a process to drive upward convergence towards best practice in climate action, learning from existing conversations and processes in place so as to harvest ideas from leading experts and integrate these into the Race to Zero fabric.

It is not

  • a blinkered process duplicating the rich discussions already underway amongst experts and practitioners.

It is…

  • a process through which lively discussion and at times disagreements are welcome – and indeed necessary – in order to understand where the challenges lie in taking climate action and setting robust standards in line with the science.

It is not

  • a process to force agreement amongst experts and to impose a black and white approach to this complex field.

It is…

  • a process designed to continue strengthening voluntary commitments and to clarify guidance in voluntary action, in order to ultimately push towards standardisation and regulation of best practice.

It is not

  • a process designed to replace the need for standardisation and regulation by governments of net zero action by businesses, investors, cities and regions

II/ The Outcome

  • The starting line criteria, leadership practices, interpretation guide and lexicon are all reviewed and carefully considered by experts across the world, who propose clarifications, adjustments, and relevant additions to the Expert Peer Review Group.
  • The Expert Peer Review Group digests these suggestions and, based on the feedback, suggests a renewed draft of all four criteria documents (the startling line criteria; leadership practices; interpretation guide and lexicon) to the UN High-level Climate Champions (Nigel Topping and Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin) for their approval.
  • Once approved, these strengthened and clarified criteria documents are published and widely socialised annually in June 2022.
  • These criteria then come into force approximately a month after being published:
    • with immediate effect for any new Partner or member looking to join the Race;
    • for any member or Partner already in the Race, they will have twelve months to incorporate the relevant clarifications or additional guidelines from the process into their own procedures.

III/ The Impact

  • This process helps to continuously clarify guidance for the Campaign’s members as to how they can (and must) achieve targets in line with the science, ultimately drives convergence towards best practice.

IV/ One of three pillars

The Criteria Consultation Process is the first of three separate but closely interconnected projects for Race to Zero this year. The Criteria Consultation works to define best practice, closely connected with the development of accountability which ensures that such best practice is being implemented, by first targeting support where needed and ultimately removing members from the Race when they continuously fail to meet the criteria. Finally, the in order to measure the impact of implementing best practice, Race to Zero will seek – with external support – to report on the progress delivered in line with these strengthened and clarified criteria.


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