Race to Zero ‘trailblazers’ showcased at UN Climate Ambition Summit

By Climate Champions | September 22, 2023

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit showcased “first movers and doers” responding to the call for accelerated climate action. Taking place at the UN headquarters in New York on 20 September 2023, the Summit championed leadership, solutions and ambitious actions that are driving the transition to a low-carbon, equitable and climate-resilient global economy.

All the business, finance, city and subnational government leaders that spoke at the event are members of Race to Zero partner initiatives. Race to Zero is the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions’ global campaign to rally ambition from non-state actors.

“Our focus here is on climate solutions,” Secretary-General António Guterres said at the Summit. “The path forward is clear. It has been forged by fighters and trailblazers… Chief Executives transforming their business models and financiers funding a just transition; mayors moving towards a zero-carbon future.”

One of the leaders who spoke at the Summit was Oliver Bäte, CEO of financial services provider, Allianz, part of Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance a Race to Zero founding partner. “To build a united and decarbonized society, we need to reach out to others and build more collaboration – not less,” Bate said. “We must all take a first stance and lead by example.”

Also featured was Barbara Zvan, President and Chief Executive Officer of University Pension Plan Ontario, a member of Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance, who developed a bold climate plan as a core part of their investment strategy. “Investors alone cannot stabilize the climate but we are prepared and ready to invest in solutions that will,” Zvan said.

Other Race to Zero leaders given a platform at the Summit included Miguel Stilwell D’Andrade of renewable energy company EDP Renováveis (part of the Science Based Targets initiative), and state leaders Gavin Newsom, Governor of California and Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State (both Under 2 coalition members), as well as Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London (Chair of C40 cities and a Cities Race to Zero member).

“Our cities offer ground for hope.” Khan said. “We are the ones willing to make the tough calls. Only last month London implemented the world’s largest clean air zone… doing this wasn’t easy but the time for action is now. From Rio to Seoul, from Paris to Milan, from Dhaka to Freetown, it’s the cities leading the charge.”

Since its inception in 2019, the Race to Zero campaign has rallied leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. The campaign now has 12,500 members – a 200% increase over the past 18 months – all committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and collectively halving emissions by 2030.

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Photo credits: © UN Photo/Mark Garten Gavin Newsom (centre), Governor of California – a Race to Zero member – speaks at the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit 2023.

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