The environmental industry’s Pledge To Net Zero initiative has been approved as a partner within the UN’s Race to Zero campaign.

  • Race To Zero is the UN’s campaign to rally fast climate action from business, cities, regions, investors and universities ahead of COP26
  • Around 80% of UK environmental consulting market is part of Pledge To Net Zero

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. IEMA is a founding partner of the Pledge and has signed the commitment.

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.

It mobilises a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 23 regions, 454 cities, 1,397 companies, 569 universities, and 74 investors, alone making up over 12% of the global economy. This coalition of across economic sectors joins 120 countries in the largest ever alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest.

Pledge To Net Zero was launched in late 2019 to convene fast climate action in the UK’s environmental sector. It requires signatories to commit to deliver a greenhouse gas target in line with either a 1.5°C climate change scenario, or well below 2°C.

So far, 73 firms and Institutions have joined up, covering around 80% of the UK environmental consulting market and 60,000 UK employees.

Welcoming the recognition that becoming part of the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero brings, 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.’

In the run up to the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow in November, the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, Nigel Topping, 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.'

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

While currently focussed on the UK consulting industry, membership of Pledge To Net Zero the initiative is 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.

IEMA’s Director of Policy and External Affairs, Martin Baxter, puts the need for collaboration to grow in the context of the consequences of missing the targets necessary to tackle the climate emergency: ‘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.’

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’.

She added:

‘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.’

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.’

Find out more about IEMA's Transition to Net Zero here.


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