A global campaign calling for a "a resilient, zero carbon recovery" from the COVID-19 pandemic has seen nearly 1,000 businesses commit to a 2050 net zero, with plans to encourage more to follow.
The Race to Zero campaign is a global effort from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), bringing together a coalition of net zero initiatives and representing 449 cities, 21 regions, 992 businesses, 38 investors and 505 universities.
It encourages actors outside of national governments to join the Climate Ambition Alliance by committing to achieving net zero by 2050 at the latest. The Alliance itself already has 120 countries signed up, UNFCCC said.
The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global average temperature rise this century as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
As part of this, Race to Zero is aiming to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to encourage a global recovery programme. It is intended that this will therefore create jobs and further sustainable growth.
It is hoped the campaign will build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26, which UNFCCC said would send governments "a resounding signal that business, cities, regions and investors are united in meeting the Paris goals".
National Grid has joined the campaign, pointing to its own target of reducing its direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, having already achieved a 70% reduction. It is to publish interim targets shortly, it said.
“We’re committed to playing our part in the acceleration towards a cleaner future, that will deliver economic growth and opportunities for all,” John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid, said.
“The decarbonisation of the energy system is one of the biggest challenges facing our world, and we’re committed to playing our part in the acceleration towards a cleaner future, that will deliver economic growth and opportunities for all."
National Grid is currently researching hydrogen and renewable natural gas, increasing its energy efficiency and use of renewables, converting its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles and working on a reduction in emissions from high-voltage switchgear and other electrical equipment.
The campaign joins previous calls for a green recovery, including a letter sent to the UK Prime Minister signed by over 200 business leaders calling for decarbonisation to be at the heart of recovery efforts.
Thinktank IPPR’s Environmental Justice Commission suggested that the UK government should invest at least £30 billion into a green recovery, starting with “shovel ready” projects.
The Committee on Climate Change also made recommendations for low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure to be at the heart of the government’s approach to rebuilding the UK after COVID-19.
Most recently, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for renewables to be at the core of the recovery, particularly as costs continue to fall.