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COP Presidencies Speak at Launch of Race to Zero Campaign

The COP26 President, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma and Italian Environment Minister Sergio Costa spoke at the launch of the Race to Zero campaign on World Environment Day (5 June 2020). Italy is assuming the COP26 Presidency in partnership with the UK. They were joined by the President of COP25, Chile’s Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt. 

The entire on demand webcast of the launch event, which was part of the UNFCCC’s June Momentum on Climate Change, can be viewed here

The first minutes of the launch event are difficult to hear to due to technical problems. We have therefore posted the remarks of Alok Sharma and of Sergio Costa here:

Remarks of Alok Sharma

Ladies and gentlemen,

All of us here know that failing to act on climate change will cause irreversible consequences.

As temperatures continue to rise, droughts and heatwaves will become more common.

This will devastate nature and biodiversity. And exact a catastrophic economic cost.

So it is great to see cities and countries, businesses and investors, uniting against this global threat.

Last week, the COP Bureau of the UNFCCC, with the UK and our Italian partners, agreed that COP26 will take place between 1st and 12th November 2021.

COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a fairer, greener recovery from the effects of Covid-19.

A recovery which delivers for both our people and our planet.

In recent years, the UK has shown that green growth is absolutely possible.

Since 1990 we have grown our economy by 75% whilst cutting emissions by 43%.

And in doing so, we have built entirely new industries.

20 years ago the UK had two offshore wind turbines powering just 2,000 homes.

Fast-forward to 2020, and the UK has more offshore wind capacity than any other country in the world.

Earlier this year construction began at the world’s largest offshore wind development, Dogger Bank. A project which, when complete, will be able to power 4.5 million UK homes.

Globally, the cost of wind power has fallen by 49% and that of solar power by 85% since 2010.

Renewables are already cheaper than coal power in two-thirds of all countries in the world.

This progress was made possible by the countries, companies, cities and regions who led the way.

Shifting investment, spurring innovation, scaling-up technologies and driving down costs.

And in the lead up to COP26, we have defined five areas which need particular attention:

Clean energy, clean transport, nature-based solutions, adaptation and resilience and, bringing it all together, finance.

From releasing capital for green projects, to making electric cars cheaper to buy, the opportunities of the green economy are broad.

And by working together, we can make progress faster.

That is why the UK, in partnership with Chile and the UN, is leading the Climate Ambition Alliance.

Bringing together 120 countries, 1,000 businesses, 36 investors, nearly 500 cities and regions, and more than 500 universities.

The Alliance is the largest ever coalition of leaders committed to reaching net zero by 2050.

It already represents over half of global GDP and covers nearly a quarter of CO2 emissions.

But we must go further.

So today the High-Level Champions for the UK and Chile, Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz, are launching the ‘Race to Zero’.

Urging businesses, investors, cities and regions around the world to commit to reaching net zero by 2050.

We are off to a great start.

It is great to see big names like Diageo and Rolls-Royce joining the ‘Race to Zero’ today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Whether we live in the South, the North, the East or the West, we share one life-giving but fragile planet.

And as we recover from the Coronavirus, the world has an opportunity to not just rebuild what went before, but to build back better.

Uniting behind a green global recovery.

We must all do our part.

And I would urge everyone involved in today’s event to join the ‘Race to Zero’ and commit your region, city or company to reaching net zero by 2050 at the latest.

Thank you.

Remarks of Sergio Costa

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented crisis, which is having a devastating impact on our lives, our societies and our economies. No one could have foreseen this scenario when, a few months ago, Italy and the United Kingdom received the mandate from the 197 Member States of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to organise COP26 in Glasgow and the preparatory events – that is to say the pre-COP and the youth event –  in Milan.

The health crisis has forced us to postpone these events until autumn 2021 to make sure that everyone will be able participate. Inclusion is the essential prerequisite for us to be able to set ourselves ambitious goals – all together and supporting the most vulnerable.

We are drawing important lessons from this situation. We have understood that the health crisis and the climate and environmental crisis are closely related. They require collective responses, through global collaboration and solidarity – as Secretary General Guterres has indicated. Science is showing us the way forward and technology is providing us with innovative tools that today make a just ecological transition possible – and economically sustainable.

We want reconstruction oriented towards a new economic model: more resilient, more protective, more inclusive – which will lead us to a new normality – green and no longer grey. The transition to a climate-neutral sustainable economy has the potential to boost jobs and growth and improve the way we all live.

As Italy, we are working to ensure that the European Union adopts this year – in line with the Paris Agreement timetable – increased NDCs, cutting emissions by 50-55% by 2030, and thus setting a positive example to other global players.

At national level, we adopted a “Climate Law” last autumn. It allocated important resources for sustainable and clean transport, as well as for reforestation, including in cities. We strongly believe in nature-based solutions. The Climate Law also encourages virtuous behaviour by citizens, without whose active contribution there can be no transformative change. For example, we have rewarded those retailers who set up “green corners” offering bulk products with a drastic reduction in packaging. 

Over the past few days, we have taken other steps to drive the post-Covid “green recovery”, with a substantial budget, in the direction of de-carbonisation. We are offering, for instance, the chance to deduct around 110% of the cost of energy efficiency measures and the installation of photovoltaic systems in homes. The message is: if I make my house greener, the state not only pays me back but also rewards me. In addition, this will stimulate the construction and urban regeneration sector, which is expected to provide a major contribution to decarbonisation.

Furthermore, citizens will be given a €500 bonus for the purchase of bicycles, including electric bicycles and other electric ultralight vehicles. We are investing €120 million for this purpose – and we are aiming to increase this to 200 million. This is a major push to revolutionise the way we get around, and is consistent with the actions needed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

These measures are part of a shared philosophy. As we have learnt from COVID-19, the responsibility, behaviour and choices of our citizens are the key to recovery from a time of crisis. So, as nation states, let’s encourage and support the virtuous behaviour of individuals, while encouraging the manufacturing sector and industrial supply chains to innovate, to make technological leaps forward, and to adopt climate-neutral production models.

We are totally convinced of the need to work with all actors from the private sector and civil society, to give a clear and concrete response to the growing demand for ambitious measures. The launch of the “Race to Zero” initiative on World Environment Day is a concrete example of the efforts made to support the growing mobilisation of all actors towards our common goal of climate neutrality.  

We believe in the involvement of all actors in climate action, from the private sector to local authorities, from the financial sector to the world of education, academia and research. For this reason, in Italy we have signed agreements with Regional Governments for the implementation of clean transport; we have included sustainability and climate education in school curricula; and we will host, just before the pre-COP, the Youth for Climate event, to bring the voice of young people from all over the world and their drive and ideas to the negotiating table. 

Read original release here.

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