BLOG: But how can I join the Race to Zero?

In this blog, UKGBC’s Member Engagement Manager, Ceri Mugford, reflects on the routes different organisations can take to join the Race to Zero.
Joining the RtZ

Published on

July 4, 2022





You know why you should join the Race to Zero, but the question can be how? As a commitment that is open to such a diverse group of organisations, businesses, political bodies and authorities, the specifics of joining might not immediately seem clear. In this blog, we’ll run you through some of the most common ways our members have joined the Race to Zero, and some information to help you chose which path might be right for you.   

To join the Race, the UNFCCC-backed campaign requires that organisations and businesses join one of the official partners directly to become a signatory. By joining any one of these initiatives and networks the business or organisation in question will become included in the Race. 

How have UKGBC members joined the Race?  

Overwhelmingly, Business Ambition for 1.5C – Our Only Future. With currently over 50 of our 101 member signatories using this method, this route is used by a wide range of membership – from consultants to developers, product manufacturers and lawyers.  

However, our members have joined through a range of paths. Notably, many of the SMEs that are part of UKGBC joined through the SME Climate Hub. Additionally, other members chose the route that was tailored for them – for example most of our finance or investment members joined through either the Net-Zero Asset Managers Initiative or the Net Zero Banking Alliance. In other instances, organisations who have already met high-level climate targets across their activities and have achieved B-Corp status, could join through this accreditation.  

Truly, there’s not one route that’s ‘best’ for joining, and several of our members are members of two or more of the initiatives that allow them to be a part of the Race. However, we know that as an organisation the more clarity you can have on the options, the better.  

So, what are these different routes?  

Business Ambition for 1.5 C – Our Only Future 

An initiative by Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) in partnership with UN Global Compact and the We Means Business Coalition, Business Ambition for 1.5C is the commitment to reducing emissions in line with the SBTi Net-Zero Standard. This is a framework for corporate net zero targets inline with climate science – so is ideal for a wide range of companies and organisations. The documentation provided when you sign up gives guidance, criteria and recommendations for those signing up who are committing to emissions compatible with 1.5 degrees warming.  

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Business Declares 

Business Declares is a non-profit membership organisation that wants to use the voice of business collectively to push for real, meaningful Climate Action. As their name suggests, they are declaring a Climate Emergency and ‘recognise the complexity of making an authentic climate transition.’ Therefore they want to support businesses with the hurdles they have to cross to be apart of this. To be able to join, and therefore become a member of the Race to Zero, you have to have ‘an authentic commitment to making a climate transition – backed at the top and throughout the organisation.’  

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Exponential Roadmap Initiative  

The focus of the Exponential Roadmap Initiative is to have its members halve emissions by 2030 – a date we know is crucial for keeping under 1.5 degrees of warming. The initiative is science based and presents 36 scalable climate solutions for its members to exponentially cut carbon emissions – this is called their Exponential Roadmap. They also have a playbook which provides a framework for all companies to rapidly reach net zero.  

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Planet Mark 

Planet Mark’s Net Zero Programme is one of Planet Mark’s programmes which allows organisations to follow a six stage programme that allows them to deliver a credible net zero plan. It aligns with the Science Based Targets Net Zero Standard. This programme is one of those that gives the most support to those who sign up, including workshops and masterclasses. Planet Mark is also a UKGBC member! 

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The Climate Pledge 

The Climate Pledge was created by Amazon and Global Optimism in 2019, and has a commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2040 – 10 years before the Paris Agreement. When an organisation signs up to the pledge, they commit to regularly report their greenhouse gas emissions, implement decarbonisation strategies as quickly as possible, and finally use credible offsets for any remaining carbon that’s not possible to abate.  

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SME Climate Hub 

With the UK government as key partners, the SME Climate Hub is designed for small and medium enterprises who wish to make a climate commitment. They provide tools to help you identify and tackle emissions, with the aim of halving emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050. Although part of a wider programme, this commitment is UK small business specific – with over 3,200 organisations currently signed up.  

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B Corporation (B Corp Climate Collective’s Net Zero 2030)

The above campaign was retired on 15th September 2022. All companies previously signatories to this campaign, who wish to remain part of the Race to Zero, are being signposted to re-join the Race to Zero via either the Science-Based Targets Initiative or SME Climate Hub.

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Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance 

Convened by the UN, the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance is a commitment to transition investment portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050 – in line with 1.5 degree warming. By signing the commitment, you must regularly report on your emissions and have 5 year intermediate targets. They have produced a series of publications to help guide and give advice throughout this process.  

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Net Zero Banking Alliance 

Once again convened by the UN, this industry led coalition represents around 40% of global banking assets. It combines, ‘near-term action with accountability’ and sees those that sign their commitment setting an intermediate target for 2030 or sooner. It stresses that in these first targets banks should focus on the sectors where they can have the most impact – i.e. the most carbon-intensive sectors in their portfolios.  

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I’ve joined a partner initiative – what next?  

Once you join one of the Race’s official partners, there are 5 key steps that summarise your journey on the Race to Zero – the 5 ‘P’s. The 5 Ps are:  

  1. Pledge – Your organisation at first must pledge to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest. In order to have these targets within 1.5 degrees warming, you must also have an interim target to halve emissions by 2030. 
  2. Plan – Within 12 months of committing, the organisation has to have a clear and practical plan to achieve both long term pledges and interim goals. 
  3. Proceed – Take immediate action to follow these plans and therefore work towards achieving decarbonisation. 
  4. Publish – You must commit to publishing how the organisation is doing against these plans, at least, annually. This allows you to be kept accountable and show that real action is happening following your initial pledge.  
  5. Persuade – Finally, you must align external communications with your Race to Zero priorities, lobbying for policy that helps us all collectively reach this goal.

Want more information? 

Full criteria of joining the Race to Zero here.

The Race’s to Zero’s Interpretation Guide here.

Want to learn more about the Race to Zero? On the 5th July we’re having a webinar that gives more guidance, on how to get to the starting line. Sign up here.