Race to Zero builds momentum

Commitments pledged under the Race to Zero campaign now cover at least two thirds of the global economy, putting 2021 on a path to be the most impactful year for climate action ever. By Climate Champions | March 22, 2021

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, net-zero commitments almost doubled in 2020. Today, two-thirds of global emissions are covered by net-zero targets which, if met, will create monumental economic and societal advantages for the countries, cities and companies which emerge as leaders. Within this decade, it’s estimated that upgrading to a zero carbon future will create 35 million more jobs and $26 trillion more in economic benefits, compared with attempting to resuscitate the high-carbon status quo.

This exponential growth shows no sign of stopping, as evident by the momentum building for the Race to Zero, an alliance of non state actors committed to halving emissions by 2030.

Under the stewardship of the UN High Level Climate Champions for the UK and Chile, Race to Zero continues to rally leadership and support from a growing number of businesses, cities, regions and investors committed to a healthy, resilient and zero carbon world.

Over 3,500 participants are now signed up – a figure expected to soar higher still in the build up to COP26. Currently, 127 major investors, 2,161 businesses, 23 regions, 571 universities, and 708 cities have successfully qualified to join the Race to Zero.

Participating cities cover the globe, from Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh, to Kolkata, San José and Helsinki. Of the businesses signed up, 867 are SMEs and 30 are listed on the UK’s FTSE 100. Companies include AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Diageo, Burberry, and BT.


Tokyo has joined the Race to Zero


This growing momentum towards a decarbonized economy is critical in the run up to COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement.

While still eight months until the pivotal Glasgow conference, the rising number of Race to Zero participants gives a clear signal to governments that the transition to a decarbonized economy is underway and picking up pace.

As net zero commitments grow, so should the pressure mounting on countries which must translate these pledges into credible policies as soon as possible. A UNFCCC report in January found nations were “nowhere close” to the level of action needed to fight global heating. The report – “a red alert for our planet” – urges countries to adopt stronger and more ambitious plans to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Credible climate action 

Soaring numbers of net zero commitments – even beyond the Race to Zero campaign – are evidence of a welcome and immovable spotlight on climate action. But not all commitments are beholden to the same standards and criteria. This is why the Race to Zero campaign is vital.

In order to join the Race to Zero, a minimum set of rigorous procedural criteria must first be met. There are four steps to the starting line:

  1. Pledge

Pledge at the head-of-organization level to reach (net)-zero in the 2040s or sooner, or by mid-century at the latest, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5C, the goal of the Paris Agreement.

  1. Plan

In advance of COP26, explain what steps will be taken toward achieving net zero, especially in the short- to medium-term. Set an interim target to achieve in the next decade, which reflects a fair share of the 50% global reduction in CO2 by 2030, identified in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C.

  1. Proceed

Take immediate action toward achieving net zero, consistent with delivering interim targets specified.

  1. Publish

Commit to report progress at least annually, including via, to the extent possible, platforms that feed into the UNFCCC Global Climate Action Portal.

If you’re not already part of the most important race in history, please click here to discover how to get to the starting line.






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.