In November, the UK will host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the most important climate meeting since the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the largest gathering of world leaders since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Brazil has a fundamental role towards COP26, and in its first visit to Brazil, the COP26 Designated President, Alok Sharma, welcomed governors, mayors, and business leaders to celebrate the collective commitments of the Race to Zero campaign in Brazil. “Every degree counts,” said Sharma. «You are my climate heroes and your adhesion to this great climate commitment is very important.»
The event, which was held in a hybrid manner, was attended by the UK Ambassador to Brazil, Peter Wilson, and had the online participation of Gonzalo Muñoz, leader of the Race to Zero Campaign and Climate Action of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
The ceremony celebrated the entry of new states into the Race to Zero: Pernambuco and Pará. They join Minas Gerais, the first state to join the campaign in Latin America, and also São Paulo, the first to sign its commitment in the form of a decree in July. Together, the four states represent 33% of Brazilian emissions.
New states are in the process of applying for adhesion: Amazonas, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, and Mato Grosso do Sul. When confirmed, this will mean that the eight states responsible for 48% of Brazilian emissions and more than 50% of the country’s GDP will be compromised to reach zero carbon by 2050. In addition to these, the governor of the state of Paraná also participated in the event and showed interest in participating in the campaign.
In his opening speech, Sharma congratulated the Brazilian ambition. “We got more than 100 companies, 12 cities, 4 states that have already signed the commitment to the Race to Zero in Brazil and, if you add the efforts of those who are committing today, this represents about 50% of all emissions in Brazil and 50% of the economy. This is absolutely huge and I salute you for it.”
Nine signatory cities participated in the event. The mayors João Campos, of Recife (PE); José Sarto, from Fortaleza (CE); Axel Grael, from Niterói (RJ) and Márcia Conrado de Serra Talhada (PE), participated in person. The other mayors Rafael Greca, from Curitiba (PR); Ricardo Nunes, from São Paulo (SP); Bruno Reis, from Salvador (BA); Ary Vanazzi, from São Leopoldo (RS) and Jairo Jorge, from Canoas (RS), were present online.
In a video, the mayor of São Leopoldo and president of the Brazilian Association of Municipalities (ABM), Ary Vanazzi, told of the work he has been developing with the Global Covenant of Mayors. “With the support of the Global Covenant of Mayors, we have been holding training seminars and convincing municipalities to work with the environmental agenda to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”. The mayor also spoke of the various initiatives that São Leopoldo has been developing, such as the construction of effective environmental legislation to ensure the protection of green areas in the city and the structuring of a selective collection project that involves the most vulnerable families, with the aim of generate income and increase the social inclusion of these groups.
In addition to the cities, the ceremony also celebrated the participation of more than 100 Brazilian companies and more than 3,000 globally in the Race to Zero. The group present at the event represented the diversity of sectors with climate commitments and reinforced the important role of the private sector in tackling climate change. The commitments of the companies: Movida, BRF, Azul SA, Ambev, Banco do Brasil, Malwee, Klabin, JBS, and Natura were signed.
Ambassador Peter Wilson, who opened the event, highlighted the benefits of a green economic recovery. “There is no contradiction between economic growth and greening our economies. We see here today that the possibility of zeroing emissions is real and we only have to gain”.
Gonzalo Muñoz emphasized that “2021 is a critical year for climate action” and that “zero net emissions must be our common, urgent goal”. He added that «in this race, we need everyone, without exception».
The president of COP26 concluded the ceremony by saying that “the reason we are doing this is for the environment, for the economy, and jobs, but we are also doing this for future generations and this next decade will be absolutely decisive for actions that are being taken”.
The event was held in partnership with the Global Compact Brazil, Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), Ethos Institute, CDP, Centro Brasil no Clima, ICLEI, C40, ACA Brasil, Under2 Coalition, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) and FGV EAESP.
If you were unable to watch it live, see the recording at the link: http://bit.ly/CorridaAoZero.
About the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM)
The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) is a powerful and historic response to climate change by cities around the world. The Covenant has become the largest alliance against climate change, reducing its inevitable impacts and facilitating access to clean, affordable energy. Built with the commitment of more than 11,000 cities around the world, this alliance strengthens the climate capacities and actions of local governments and sub-national authorities.
The Race to Zero Campaign
The UN global campaign brings together non-state actors from around the world committed to a green, resilient and carbon-free economic recovery and to achieving zero net emissions by 2050. In Brazil, 122 actors (including 99 companies, 3 states, and 8 cities) already committed to Race to Zero. Check the complete list here: https://climateaction.unfccc.int/views/cooperative-initiative-details.html
Cities that join the GCoM commit to set measurable emissions targets at least as ambitious, and preferably more ambitious, than their respective government’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. They also commit to set ambitious climate adaptation goals, in line with National Adaptation Plans (where these exist), as well as sustainable energy access goals consistent with the principles around energy access and urban sustainability embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
While a commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 is not a requirement for the GCoM, the Race to Zero (RtZ) and Race to Resilience (RtR) campaign align with the vision and mission of the GCoM, and share the same objective of accelerating climate action, and to strengthen the resilience of communities toward effects of climate change.