UN campaign ‘Race to Zero’ toughens up membership criteria


United Nations-backed campaign ‘Race to Zero’ on Wednesday unveiled a tighter set of baseline criteria for the growing number of firms pledging to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The updated criteria will be reflected in the commitments of a variety of partner organizations marshaling the climate efforts of various sectors, ranging from banks to insurers and asset managers.

The new standards are the result of more than 200 independent experts consulting together, and they will affect many of the world’s largest corporations, many of which have already joined such efforts and publicly committed to achieving net-zero emissions.

All members would be explicitly compelled under the rules to phase down and ultimately phase out all unabated fossil fuels, and to do so in a way that achieves a so-called ‘Just Transition,’ in which the social repercussions of the low-energy transition are mitigated.

This means that firms and investors must limit the development, funding, and facilitation of new fossil fuel assets, including no new coal projects. The precise pathways and timelines vary among regions and sectors, according to the campaign.

Members would also be expected, for the first time, to integrate their lobbying and advocacy actions with net-zero by proactively promoting national climate policies compatible with the Race to Zero criteria.

The new regulations would apply to new members beginning June 15, with existing members having a year to comply.

Prior to the campaign’s move, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in March announced that it has made changes to its criteria and will no longer accept pledges or validate targets from fossil fuel companies, aiming to prompt the world to phase out fossil fuels and attain net zero emissions.

The clarity these criteria provide, together with increased data availability, will help governments and firms evaluate progress made and gaps remaining, said Nigel Topping and Mahmoud Mohieldin, High-level Climate Champions for the COP26 and COP27 climate negotiations, in a joint statement.

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