Corporate Leaders Commit to Ramping up Climate Action in the Lead-up to the Climate Ambition Summit and COP26, but the Race to Zero Has Only Just Begun

Dec 9, 2020 1:00 PM ET

Corporate Leaders Commit to Ramping up Climate Action in the Lead-up to the Climate Ambition Summit and COP26, but the Race to Zero Has Only Just Begun

UNITED NATIONS, New York, December 9, 2020 /3BL Media/—The eighth annual High-Level Meeting of Caring for Climate brought together leaders from business, finance, sub-national government, civil society, and the United Nations on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement — just four days before the Climate Ambition Summit, where national Governments are set to take the stage to announce strengthened climate plans.

The leaders gathered for  interactive dialogues to take stock of progress since the Paris Agreement, discuss strategies for a green recovery to tackle today’s twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, and explore ideas for strengthening inclusive multilateralism to accelerate climate action in the Decade of Action underway.

The High-Level Meeting of Caring for Climate was convened by the UN Global Compact – together with the UN Environment Programme and UNFCCC, in partnership with the High Level Champions for Climate Action for COP25 and COP 26 – to identify  concrete actions and partnerships business can undertake to recalibrate toward a 1.5°C pathway — and ultimately toward a zero-carbon future by 2050. Leaders represented initiatives such as the “Race to Zero” and “Business Ambition for 1.5°C”.

360 companies have now committed to a 1.5°C future in line with achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, more than twice the number of companies that signed up at the COP25 Climate Conference a year ago. By setting scientific, verifiable emission reduction targets, these companies are sending clear signals to Governments, shareholders and employees that the private sector is already beginning to shift towards a net-zero future.

Business leaders supported the Secretary-General’s call for further ambitious commitments, to be announced at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December 2020, co-convened by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy. 

Opening the event, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “2021 must be the year in which the world leaps forward into a net-zero future.” Calling on CEOs to recover better from the pandemic and to lead on climate action, he added: “I hope you will help your governments to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, well in advance of COP 26 and consistent with a net-zero pathway.” 

Urging companies to dramatically reduce their emissions, Sanda Ojiambo,  CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said: “With the campaign Business Ambition for 1.5°C, we challenge companies to align their science-based targets with a 1.5°C pathway to ultimately reach net- zero emissions by 2050. The campaign  is one of the initiatives under Race to Zero, which calls for radical collaborations to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.”

The High-Level Climate Champion for Climate Action Gonzalo Muñoz pointed out: “We won’t reach zero emissions by mid-century if we don’t start moving today. The Paris Agreement sets the roadmap for reaching that final destination, but we cannot delay action - we must deliver on the promise of Paris.”

Noting the progress on carbon neutrality, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC, said: “Only by having everyone on board can we make the deep transformations to put us on a path for a 1.5°C resilient future.”

About Caring for Climate

Launched in 2007, Caring for Climate is an initiative of the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to advance the role of business in addressing climate change. It provides a framework for business leaders to implement practical climate change solutions and help shape public policy. Caring for Climate is endorsed by over 450 companies from 65 countries. 

About Business Ambition for 1.5°C

Launched in 2019, the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign invites the most visionary leaders to commit their companies to set science-based targets aligned with a 1.5°C pathway in the lead up to COP 26. The campaign is an effort led by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), in close partnership with the UN Global Compact and the We Mean Business coalition. Business Ambition for 1.5°C is one of the initiatives under the Race to Zero.

As a response, 360 companies are committed to set and implement science-based emissions reduction targets consistent with keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels across their entire value chain. The campaign is backed by a historic coalition of UN, Business organizations and NGOs behind one strong message: We urgently need to step up ambition for the best chance of tackling the climate crisis. 

About Race to Zero

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.Led by the High-Level Climate Champions for Climate Action – Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz– 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.

The objective is to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonized economy ahead of COP26, where governments must strengthen their contributions to the Paris Agreement. This will send governments a resounding signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals and creating a more inclusive and resilient economy.

About the UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and 69 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. #UnitingBusiness

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