UN Chief Forms Expert Group to Tackle Climate Crisis

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has launched his Expert Group to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities – including businesses, investors, cities and regions – and speed up their implementation.

The launch of the High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities comes amid a worsening climate crisis and growing urgency for all commitments to be transparent, credible, backed by robust implementation plans, and converted into real emissions cuts as rapidly as possible.

“Despite growing pledges of climate action, global emissions are at an all-time high. They continue to rise. The latest science shows that climate disruption is causing havoc in every region — right now. We are in a race against time to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees. And we are losing,” the Secretary-General said. “Governments have the lion’s share of responsibility to achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury.”

The Expert Group’s recommendations for higher ambition and environmental integrity will address four areas:

Current standards and definitions for setting net-zero targets; 

Credibility criteria used to assess the objectives, measurement and reporting of netzero pledges;

Processes for verification and accounting of progress towards net-zero commitments and reported decarbonization plans; and 

Roadmap to translate standards and criteria into international and national level regulations.

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), the Secretary-General had flagged a clear need for more credible and robust standards and criteria for measuring, analyzing and reporting net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities. 

The Expert Group – launched on March 31 – will be gender-balanced and will consist of respected and independent experts, drawn from a diverse group of countries and regions. They will work in their personal capacity. The Group will be chaired by Ms. Catherine McKenna, former Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

“The recent avalanche of net-zero pledges by businesses, investors, cities and regions will be vital to keep 1.5°C 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,” Ms. McKenna said.

The Expert Group will make recommendations before the end of the year.

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Rakesh Raman