The group will encourage real emission reductions among cities and regions, not over-reliance on carbon offsets.
The UN has tasked a high-profile committee with drawing up standards so that businesses and sub-national governments “walk the talk on their net zero promises”.
The 16-members of the group are to publish recommendations within 12 months on how to assess net zero commitments and translate these into national and international regulations.
It will be called the High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (HLEG) and be supported by a small full-time staff at the UN’s New York headquarters.
Announcing the group, the UN’s secretary-general António Guterres said: “Governments have the lion’s share of responsibility to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. Particularly the G20. But we also urgently need every business, investor, city, state and region to walk the talk on their net-zero promises.”
He added: “To avert a climate catastrophe, we need bold pledges matched by concrete action. Tougher net-zero standards and strengthened accountability around the implementation of these commitments can deliver real and immediate emissions cuts.”
Canadian Government fights oil and gas industry
Catherine McKenna will lead the group. She was Canada’s environment minister and infrastructure and communities minister under Justin Trudeau’s government before leaving politics last year to focus on “[her] kids and the climate”.
Commenting on her appointment, she said: “The recent avalanche of net-zero pledges by businesses, investors, cities and regions will be vital to keep 1.5C alive and to build towards a safe and healthy planet, but only if all pledges have transparent plans, robust near-term action, and are implemented in full.”
Climate scientist and campaigner Bill Hare, another member of the group, said: “Governments are being held to account, but for non-state actors the situation is a lot more murky, and without guidelines, many net zero claims risk being simply [public relation] campaigns without verification”.
The group’s 16 members include climate campaigners, scientists, energy analysts, businesspeople, economists, finance experts, bankers and former politicians and civil servants.
The group is intentionally gender-balanced with eight women and eight men. There are eight representatives from developed countries and eight from developing countries. Around 80% of the world’s population live in developing countries.
They will combat greenwashing which is when corporations claim they are helping the planet but fail to do enough to comply with international climate goals. The group will focus in particular on the excessive use of carbon offsets, and the unrealistic dependence on carbon reduction technology.
Science-Based Targets Initiative is the most well-known benchmark for corporate net zero targets. It was created by a coalition involving green groups. But independent analysts accused the initiative of providing a “platform for greenwashing”, noting that its revenue comes from the same multinational companies it validates.
The New Climate Institute found that corporate net zero targets often rely heavily on carbon offsets whose climate benefits have been oversold, while others use an anomalous baseline in order to reach targets.
To promote integrity within the market for carbon offsets, two taskforces have been established. The Integrity Council for the Voluntary carbon Market, also known as Mark Carney, UN special envoy for finance and climate action, was established. The Voluntary carbon market Integrity initiative (VCMI), is co-chaired and chaired by Rachel Kyte, a former UN clean energie envoy.
Source: Climate Change News