Pledge To Net Zero joins UN climate race

Pledge To Net Zero joins the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign ahead of COP26.

Pledge To Net Zero, the initiative tackling greenhouse gas emissions within the UK’s environmental services sector, has formally joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Race to Zero campaign.

Race To Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. All members are committed to the same overarching goal: achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.

Pledge To Net Zero was launched in late 2019 to convene fast climate action in the UK’s environmental sector. So far, 73 firms and Institutions have joined up, covering around 80% of the UK environmental consulting market and 60,000 UK employees. 

All signatories have committed to the following three pledges:

  1. Set and commit to deliver a greenhouse gas target in line with either a 1.5°C (encouraged) or well below 2°C climate change scenario – covering buildings and travel as a minimum;
  2. Publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and progress against this target each year;
  3. Publish one piece of research or thought-leadership piece each year on practical steps to delivering an economy in line with climate science and in support of net zero carbon. Alternatively, provide mentoring and support for smaller signatory companies in setting targets, reporting and meeting the requirements of the pledge.

Andrew Griffith MP, UK Net Zero Business Champion, said: “Pledge To Net Zero is playing a leading role in driving the UK’s environmental services sector towards the goal of reducing carbon emissions and achieving our 2050 net zero target. Becoming part of the UNFCCC’s Race To Zero campaign shows recognition of this and I congratulate all involved on this achievement. I look forward to seeing the initiative go from strength to strength, particularly with its potential to share world-leading environmental expertise internationally.”

Pledge To Net Zero is led by a steering committee including Society for the Environment (SocEnv), Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), and Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), with environmental consultancies WSP and AECOM.

Nigel Topping, UK High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, said: “We are excited to welcome Pledge to Net Zero into the Race to Zero campaign. The environmental services sector plays a crucial role not only in reducing emissions but also in insightful thought leadership, and so we look forward to building collective momentum in the run-up to COP26.”

While currently focussed on the UK consulting industry, membership of the Pledge To Net Zero initiative is also open to international organisations. The steering committee is particularly considering an expansion of its role into Australia, Canada and New Zealand, increasing the impact of the programme to the global environmental consulting sector.

Martin Baxter, director of policy and external affairs at the IEMA, said: “Losing the race to net zero would have catastrophic consequences for life on earth – the key to avoiding this is rapid and widespread decarbonisation and it’s significant and welcome that our growing collaboration is recognised as part of the UNFCCC Race to Zero.”

David Symons, UK director of sustainability at WSP, said: “It’s fantastic that our environmental industry is taking fast climate action and I’m delighted this has been recognised by Race To Zero.”

Dr Emma Wilcox, chief executive at the Society for the Environment, said: “With the eyes of the world on Glasgow in November, we must use the huge opportunity presented by COP26 to drive tangible action on climate and the environment. This means ensuring that environmental professionals are leading the way, not just through their words but through their actions and leadership.

“Possessing the highest standards of competence and expertise, environmental professionals are equipped to meet the challenge – so long as they receive the support of organisations, investors and policymakers. As science-based initiatives requiring rigorous action from signatories, Pledge to Net Zero and Race To Zero are helping turn commitments into real change on the road to achieving net zero.”

Robert Spencer, director of sustainable development at AECOM, said: “Joining the Race to Zero campaign is an important step for our sector in demonstrating our commitment to climate action. As we work to realise the ambitious carbon targets of our clients and partners we must see COP26 as a catalyst, using our collective global expertise to accelerate net zero solutions across the built environment.”

The next signatory window for the Pledge is open now and closes on 22nd April 2021.

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