BY DR. RAVINDER PALL SAINI
INDIAN FOREST SERVICE ( RETIRED)
MEMBER, BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION
FOREST RESEARCH UNIVERSITY
DEHRADUN, 8 FEBRUARY 2023
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.
Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat, and raising temperatures.
Examples of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving a car or coal for heating a building, for example. Clearing land and forests can also release carbon dioxide. Landfills for garbage are a major source of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture, and land use are among the main emitters.
Greenhouse gas concentrations are at their highest levels in 2 million years
And emissions continue to rise. As a result, the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. The last decade (2011-2020) was the warmest on record.
Many people think climate change mainly means warmer temperatures. But temperature rise is only the beginning of the story. Because the Earth is a system, where everything is connected, changes in one area can influence changes in all others.
The consequences of climate change now include, among others, intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity.
People are experiencing climate change in diverse ways.
Climate change can affect our health, ability to grow food, housing, safety, and work. Some of us are already more vulnerable to climate impacts, such as people living in small island nations and other developing countries. Conditions like sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion have advanced to the point where whole communities have had to relocate, and protracted droughts are putting people at risk of famine. In the future, the number of “climate refugees” is expected to rise.
Every increase in global warming matters
In a series of UN reports, thousands of scientists and government reviewers agreed that limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C would help us avoid the worst climate impacts and maintain a liveable climate. Yet policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century.
The emissions that cause climate change come from every part of the world and affect everyone, but some countries produce much more than others. The 100 least-emitting countries generate 3 per cent of total emissions. The 10 countries with the largest emissions contribute 68 per cent. Everyone must take climate action, but people and countries creating more of the problem have a greater responsibility to act first.
We face a huge challenge but already know many solutions.
Many climate change solutions can deliver economic benefits while improving our lives and protecting the environment. We also have global frameworks and agreements to guide progress, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Paris Agreement. Three broad categories of action are: cutting emissions, adapting to climate impacts, and financing required adjustments.
Switching energy systems from fossil fuels to renewables like solar or wind will reduce the emissions driving climate change. But we have to start right now. While a growing coalition of countries is committing to net zero emissions by 2050, about half of emissions cuts must be in place by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C. Fossil fuel production must decline by roughly 6 per cent per year between 2020 and 2030.
Adapting to climate consequences protects people, homes, businesses, livelihoods, infrastructure, and natural ecosystems. It covers current impacts and those likely in the future. Adaptation will be required everywhere but must be prioritized now for the most vulnerable people with the fewest resources to cope with climate hazards. The rate of return can be high. Early warning systems for disasters, for instance, save lives and property, and can deliver benefits up to 10 times the initial cost.
We can pay the bill now or pay dearly in the future.
Climate action requires significant financial investments by governments and businesses. But climate inaction is vastly more expensive. One critical step is for industrialized countries to fulfil their commitment to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries so they can adapt and move towards greener economies.
Causes of Climate change:
As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history.
- Generating power
Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most of the electricity is still produced from fossil fuels; only about a quarter comes from wind, solar, and other renewable sources.
- Manufacturing goods
Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes, and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes also release gases.
- Cutting down forests
Cutting down forests to create farms or pastures, or for other reasons, causes emissions because when trees are cut, they release the carbon they have been storing. Since forests absorb carbon dioxide, destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere.
- Using transportation
Most cars, trucks, ships, and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a major contributor of greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. Road vehicles account for the largest part, but emissions from ships and planes continue to grow.
- Producing food
Producing food requires energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels. Growing crops can also cause emissions, like when using fertilisers and manure. Cattle produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. And emissions also come from packaging and distributing food.
- Powering buildings
Globally, residential, and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. As they continue to draw on coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and cooling, they emit significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Consuming too much
Your home and use of power, how you move around, what you eat and how much you throw away – all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does the consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics, and plastics.
Effects of climate change:
- Hotter temperatures.
As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. The last decade, 2011-2020, is the warmest on record. Since the 1980s, each decade has been warmer than the previous one. Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and make working outdoors more difficult. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter. Temperatures in the Arctic have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average.
- More severe storms.
Destructive storms have become more intense and more frequent in many regions. As temperatures rise, more moisture evaporates, which exacerbates extreme rainfall and flooding, causing more destructive storms. The frequency and extent of tropical storms is also affected by the warming ocean. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean surface. Such storms often destroy homes and communities, causing deaths and huge economic losses.
- Increased drought.
Climate change is changing water availability, making it scarcer in more regions. Global warming exacerbates water shortages in already water-stressed regions and is leading to an increased risk of agricultural droughts affecting crops, and ecological droughts increasing the vulnerability of ecosystems. Droughts can also stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water on a regular basis.
- A warming, rising ocean.
The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming. The rate at which the ocean is warming strongly increased over the past two decades, across all depths of the ocean. As the ocean warms, its volume increases since water expands as it gets warmer. Melting ice sheets also cause sea levels to rise, threatening coastal and island communities. In addition, the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from the atmosphere. But more carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life and coral reefs.
- Loss of species.
Climate change poses risks to the survival of species on land and in the ocean. These risks increase as temperatures climb. Exacerbated by climate change, the world is losing species at a rate 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. One million species are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades. Forest fires, extreme weather, and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats related to climate change. Some species will be able to relocate and survive, but others will not.
- Not enough food.
Changes in the climate and increases in extreme weather events are among the reasons behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. Fisheries, crops, and livestock may be destroyed or become less productive. With the ocean becoming more acidic, marine resources that feed billions of people are at risk. Changes in snow and ice cover in many Arctic regions have disrupted food supplies from herding, hunting, and fishing. Heat stress can diminish water and grasslands for grazing, causing declining crop yields and affecting livestock.
- More health risks.
Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. Climate impacts are already harming health, through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, and increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people. Changing weather patterns are expanding diseases, and extreme weather events increase deaths and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up.
- Poverty and displacement.
Climate change increases the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Floods may sweep away urban slums, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it difficult to work in outdoor jobs. Water scarcity may affect crops. Over the past decade (2010–2019), weather-related events displaced an estimated 23.1 million people on average each year, leaving many more vulnerable to poverty. Most refugees come from countries that are most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
(Based on various UN sources)
Initiatives for Action.
Governments, businesses, and civil society members are connecting in climate initiatives to speed the pace of climate action. Initiated at the 2019 Climate Action Summit held at the United Nations, the initiatives are reducing emissions, tackling critical concerns such as jobs and gender equality, unlocking finance, building sustainable infrastructure, using nature-based solutions, and advancing adaptation and climate resilience.
The United Nations’ role as a convener is needed more than ever to encourage people to collaborate, be ambitious and take actions required to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United Nations also stands behind a transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy that is just and beneficial for all people.
- Accelerating Renewable Energy: Some developing States and their partners have come together to share strategies and galvanize momentum in the transition to renewable and resilient energy systems.
- Climate Action for Jobs: This initiative has developed a roadmap and regional strategies for climate action that puts people’s jobs and well-being at the heart of the transition to a green economy.
- Cool Coalition: See how the world is coming together to deliver efficient, climate-friendly cooling for all, including through enhanced national climate plans. The coalition highlights promising innovations such as “cooling paper” that keeps temperatures down in buildings.
- The Energy Efficiency Alliance: Three Percent Club: A coalition of government, corporate and non-governmental leaders, the alliance champions accelerated energy efficiency, helping individual countries prepare roadmaps to boost efficiency. The Three Percent Club sets a target of an annual 3 per cent improvement in energy efficiency.
- Powering Past Coal Alliance: Countries, investors, utilities, and cities are among those working on early retirement – from coal as an energy source. The alliance helps drive new political and industry consensus on phasing out finance for coal and the use of coal as a power source.
- INDUSTRY & TRANSPORT
- Action towards Climate-Friendly Transport: Over 100 organizations have forged the largest coalition ever dedicated to shifting all forms of transport to zero emissions. It researches issues like rural access and making the economics of decarbonization work. An online course helps urban leaders develop sustainable urban mobility solutions.
- Decarbonizing Shipping: Getting to Zero Coalition: A powerful alliance of more than 150 maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance companies, the coalition has a moon-shot ambition: commercially viable, deep sea zero-emission vessels operating by 2030. The Sea Cargo Charter defines benchmarks to decarbonize the transport of bulk shipping containers. Under the Poseidon Principles, 15 banks have disclosed how well shipping industry loan portfolios align with climate goals.
- Leadership Group for Industry Transition: Aimed at net-zero carbon emissions from industry by 2050, the initiative has established industry groups and developed road maps for heavy industries where carbon emissions are difficult to abate. A transition tracker profiles industries in various countries.
- Business and finance.
- Business Ambition for 1.5°C: This coalition of business and industry leaders calls on companies to set ambitious and science-based emissions reduction targets, aiming for net zero in line with a 1.5°C future. Over 700 companies with more than $13 trillion in market capitalization have signed on so far.
- Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action: Fiscal and economic policymakers from over 60 countries generating around 40 per cent of global emissions are calling for urgent climate action and investment, and a just transition built on the creation of millions of new jobs. Six Helsinki Principles guide measures such as effective carbon pricing and the integration of climate change into macroeconomic and fiscal policy, among other issues.
- Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance: An international group of over 40 institutional investors with over $6.6 trillion in assets has made a bold commitment to transition investment portfolios to net-zero emissions by 2050. Members aim to align portfolios with a global temperature rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The alliance has set targets for as soon as 2025 and called for ambitious national climate plans.
- Resilience and adaptation.
- A Call for Action: Raising Ambition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience: The call sets a higher bar for ambition on adaptation and resilience, with endorsement by 130 countries and 86 organizations. It urges reaching the vulnerable, rapidly scaling up finance and integrating climate risk into imagining our future. Learn more.
- Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment: This initiative mobilizes the global private financial industry, in partnership with key private and public institutions, to integrate climate risks in investment decision-making. It now has 65 members with nearly $10 trillion in assets and has helped develop tools for modelling risk-informed cash flow and infrastructure priorities.
- Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure: Governments, UN organizations, multilateral banks, businesses, and knowledge institutions are collaborating to build resilience to climate and disaster risks into infrastructure systems. A fellowship programme promotes research and innovation.
- Insu Resilience Group Partnership Vision 2025: The partnership helps strengthen the resilience of developing countries and protect the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people from disasters. In 2020, 218 projects in 101 countries provided financial protection against climate-related risks for more than 130 million people. It also tracks noteworthy gender-smart climate solutions through a centre of excellence.
- LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience: The group works for a climate-resilient future in the least developed countries. It has made strides in devising standards for climate adaptation in local communities along with a financing mechanism.
- Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership: A coalition from the climate, humanitarian and development communities leverages knowledge, the exchange of solutions and new partnerships to reduce disaster risks, aiming to make 1 billion people safer by 2025.
- Nature-based solutions.
- Campaign for Nature: This growing coalition of more than 100 conservation organizations calls on policymakers to commit to a science-driven, ambitious new deal for nature. It hinges on protecting at least 30 per cent of the planet by 2030, backed by sufficient financial resources and the full realization of indigenous leadership and rights.
- Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance: ORRAA connects governments, financial institutions, the insurance industry, environmental organizations, and actors from the Global South to build resilience to ocean risk. It pioneers finance and insurance products aimed at incentivizing $500 million in investment in nature-based solutions by 2030.
- Urban planning
Leadership for Urban Climate Investment: A coalition of governments, financial institutions, climate funds, city networks and think tanks has developed the LUCI framework to help 2,000 cities prepare and finance climate projects, realizing 20 per cent of this target so far. A City Climate Finance Gap Fund supports the process, drawing on collaboration with multilateral development banks and bilateral donors.
Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance.
Importance of Net Zero:
The science clearly shows that to avert the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a liveable planet, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, the Earth is already about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions continue to rise. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C – as called for in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Means to achieve Net Zero:
Transitioning to a net-zero world is one of the greatest challenges humankinds has faced. It calls for nothing less than a complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about. The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions today and holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change. Replacing polluting coal, gas, and oil-fired power with energy from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.
Global effort to reach Net Zero:
A evolving coalition of countries, cities, businesses, and other institutions are undertaking sincere technical efforts to get to net-zero emissions. More than 70 countries, including the biggest polluters – China, the United States, and the European Union – have set a net-zero target, covering about 76% of global emissions. More than 3,000 businesses and financial institutions are working with the Science-Based Targets Initiative to reduce their emissions in line with climate science. And more than 1000 cities, over 1000 educational institutions, and over 400 financial institutions have joined the Race to Zero, pledging to take rigorous, immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030.
How do we ensure commitments are turned into action?
The growth in net-zero pledges has been accompanied by a proliferation of criteria with varying levels of robustness. To develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities such as businesses, investors, cities and regions, and speed up their implementation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres in March 2022 established a High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities. The Expert Group presented its recommendations at COP27 on 8 November 2022.
Need to Plan to achieve targets:
So far the promises made by governments to date fall far short of what is required. Current national climate plans – for 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement taken together – would lead to a sizable increase of almost 11% in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Getting to net zero requires all governments – first and foremost the biggest emitters – to substantially strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and take bold, immediate steps towards reducing emissions now. The Glasgow Climate Pact called on all countries to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022, but only 24 new or updated climate plans were submitted by September 2022.
Most emissions come from just a few countries.
The top seven emitters (China, the United States of America, India, the European Union, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Brazil) accounted for about half of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.
The Group of 20 (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union) are responsible for about 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
(Source: UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2022)
All About the Nationally Determined Contribution:
A Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is a climate action plan. How do NDCs work and why they are important? What’s happening in different countries?
An NDC, or Nationally Determined Contribution, is a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Each Party to the Paris Agreement is required to establish an NDC and update it every five years.
Composition of NDC:
NDCs are where countries set targets for mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and for adapting to climate impacts. The plans define how to reach the targets, and elaborate systems to monitor and verify progress so it stays on track. Since climate finance is key to implementing the plans, NDCs ideally also detail a financing strategy.
The Paris agreement asks countries to update their NDCs every five years. But given the large gap between the emissions cuts required to limit global warming to 1.5°C and the emissions reductions currently planned, the Glasgow Climate Pact in November 2021 called on all countries to revisit and strengthen the targets in their NDCs in 2022. Each new round of updates is expected to ratchet up ambition through steeper emissions cuts and more expansive adaptation measures. Building on each other over time, the NDCs are essential to ensuring a liveable future for everyone on the planet.
The best NDCs aim high and reach far. Grounded in sound analysis and data, they help countries begin a transformative shift to development that is greener and more sustainable. They guide needed shifts in different sectors of the economy and provide an opportunity for rethinking how a society produces and consumes. They can support greater social inclusion, such as through specific benefits for women, youth, and indigenous communities. Some countries now make links between NDCs and national development plans, including those to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mode of operation of NDCs:
Climate change, unlike many other issues, requires a wholesale transformation of our economies and societies. No corner will go untouched – energy, industry, agriculture, transport, institutions, individuals and more will need to make changes to reduce emissions and adapt to climate consequences that are already happening.
That’s a formidable prospect – but not an impenetrable one. Having a plan helps countries understand and organize the many different elements required to reduce emissions and adapt to protect lives and livelihoods, as soon as possible. Every bit of warming matters. With serious and bold actions, the world will avoid surpassing a threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius, after which climate impacts would become even worse than they already are.
NDCs factor in the understanding that countries must balance emissions reductions with other critical demands like ending poverty. Further, the biggest emitters need to make the most dramatic and rapid cuts.
That said, every action counts, and every country has to push for change. Some of the most ambitious plans so far come from countries like the small island developing States. They know the urgency of climate action because they are already experiencing climate-related rises in sea level that for some could swamp their national territory.
Where does an NDC come from?
Since an NDC is a government obligation under the Paris Agreement, one or more national ministries will generally lead its development. But for NDCs to work, they need to be widely understood and used by businesses, civil society, academia, and ordinary citizens. Each has roles to play, which is why many governments invite different constituencies to take part in defining NDC priorities.
Progress of NDCs to achieve the Paris Agreement:
Not much appreciable works undertaken as yet. So far, all 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement have issued at least a first NDC; 151 Parties communicated a new or updated NDC as of 2 November 2021. But quality and ambition vary, for many reasons, including a lack of adequate finance, capacity and, in some cases, insufficient political commitment. The pandemic-related economic downturn is expected to constrain implementation.
For developing countries, moving forward depends on developed countries realizing their commitment to provide $100 billion in climate finance to developing countries. Dedicating half of this amount to adaptation would help close significant financing shortfalls for vital measures to protect lives and livelihoods.
In 2023, the first in a series of global “stock takes” will assess progress on Paris Agreement goals. This process will further encourage countries to take ambitious climate actions that keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Want to get a flavour of what NDCs look like in the most recent round of updates in 2020-2021? Check the following selection as examples.
- Chile has set a goal in its NDC of reaching peak emissions no later than 2025. It intends to cut emissions across its economy, working closely with the private sector and applying tools such as carbon budgets. It will take steps to protect the ocean given its extensive coastline and move to a circular no-waste economy.
- Colombia aspires to be carbon neutral by 2050 and will use its NDCs to make that happen, with a plan to get halfway to net zero by 2030. It will green its energy system through NDC implementation agreements with the energy, agriculture, and industrial sectors. Increasing commitment to adaptation is reflected in comprehensive progress indicators integrated in national monitoring.
- The Dominican Republic has put climate action at the heart of a vision to transform its economy and is working with the private sector in mobilizing most of the funding for its NDC. Moves include revamping transportation, a major source of emissions, such as by shifting to electric and hybrid bus systems.
- Jamaica suffered a profound hit to tourism, its economic lifeline, during the pandemic. But it not only revised its NDC but committed to a 60 per cent increase in its target for emissions cuts. Its plan includes greater efficiency in water use to reduce waste and vulnerability to shortages.
- Morocco boosted its planned emissions cuts to nearly 46 per cent by 2030. The plan adds nine new mitigation actions for a total of 61 across seven core sectors. For the first time, it seeks to reduce emissions in phosphate manufacturing, since it holds 75 percent of global phosphate reserves. A move to wind power will limit emissions from water desalination plants.
- Nepal’s latest NDC built on experiences in implementing its first, making strong advances in using data and evidence for setting clear short and medium-term emissions targets. Among other sectors, these cover energy as a whole along with components within it, such as power generation, transport, residential cooking and biogas.
- Panama developed its NDC through extensive consultations with people across the plan’s 10 priority sectors. It aims to restore 50,000 hectares of national forests and has increased its emissions target by 11.5 per cent by 2030. Risk mitigation improves protections for communities, health and infrastructure.
- Rwanda was the first country in Africa to revise its initial NDC, with a bold goal to cut emissions by 38 per cent by 2030. It will pursue reductions across key sectors of its economy and has set up a system of indicators to track adaptation in water, agriculture, land and forestry, human settlements, health, transport and mining.
- Viet Nam’s revised NDC ups the ambition of mitigation and adaptation targets, defining steps in energy, agriculture, waste, land use, land use change and forestry, and industry. Its projected emissions reductions are 34 per cent more than in its first NDC.
UNDP’s Climate Promise works with 119 countries to enhance climate action, advance equality, tackle poverty, and strengthen social and environmental sustainability.
The World Bank’s NDC Support Facility backs implementation of climate action plans, including through laws, budgets, and investment choices. A recent review of experiences with NDCs in 50 countries highlighted lessons so far, including on tracking climate finance to detect investment gaps.
RACE TO ZERO
Race to Zero is the UN-backed global campaign rallying non-state actors – including companies, cities, regions, financial and educational institutions – to take rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world in time.
All members are committed to the same overarching goal: reducing emissions across all scopes swiftly and fairly in line with the Paris Agreement, with transparent action plans and robust near-term targets.
Led by the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action, Race To Zero mobilizes actors outside of national governments to join the Climate Ambition Alliance, which was launched at the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit 2019 by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.
It mobilizes a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 52 regions, 1103 cities, 7126 companies, 1103 educational institutions, 541 financial institutions, over 3,000 hospitals from 60 healthcare institutions and 24 “other” institutions.
All actors must meet stringent criteria which will bring them to the starting line to credibly race to zero emissions. These ‘real economy’ actors join 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.
Each Race to Zero member is committed to the same overarching goal of reducing emissions, across all scopes, swiftly and fairly in line with the Paris Agreement, with transparent action plans and robust near-term targets.
Together they form the largest, growing, alliance of non-state actors committed to taking rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world in time.
Current members of Race to Zero have joined the campaign through the following initiatives and networks – all of which are official partners. Please note that there are some instances where an individual actor is signed-up to multiple initiatives.
Members of Race to Zero automatically join countries in the Climate Ambition Alliance.
2015 PARIS AGREEMENT
196 countries adopted the historic Paris Agreement to reduce global warming and build resilience to climate change. Its overall goal: limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Parties to the agreement began submitting climate action plans known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Initial commitments, even if fully implemented, would only be enough to slow warming to 3 degrees. Urgent calls for action and ambition gained momentum as the plans would not stop catastrophic impacts.
In the lead-up to the COP26 climate talks, countries have begun revising their NDCs to strengthen climate action. With science affirming a shrinking window of opportunity, the plans must include urgent actions to cut carbon emissions and reach net zero by 2050.
To keep warming to 1.5 degrees, countries must cut emissions by at least 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels.
The transition to net-zero emissions must be fully complete.
Current national plans fall short of what is required