‘We cannot afford greenwashing’: Guterres highlights key role of Net-Zero experts

27 April 2022

As part of the UN’s climate action efforts, the Secretary-General’s Net-Zero Expert Group met for the first time on Wednesday, on a mission to develop stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities — such as businesses, investors, cities and regions—and speed up their implementation.

In a video message, António Guterres thanked the group for taking up the crucial task, led by former Canadian Environmental Minister, Ms. Catherine McKenna.

“Your skills and experience can help to keep 1.5 alive. We know what we need — global emissions must decrease by 45 per cent by 2030, starting now. Or rather yesterday. We cannot overstate the urgency of our task”, he said.

The UN chief denounced that fact that fossil fuel interests are now ‘cynically’ using the war in Ukraine to lock in a high carbon future, noting that financial and technical obstacles to the deployment of renewable energy are hurting many developing countries.

“The world is in a race against time. We cannot afford slow movers, fake movers or any form of greenwashing”, Guterres highlighted.

Emissions from a power plant in Koln, Germany.
© Unsplash/Paul Gilmore
Emissions from a power plant in Koln, Germany.

Deficit of credibility

The Secretary-General reminded that he decided to establish the group due to a “deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion” over emission reductions and net-zero targets.

We need to ensure net-zero commitments are ambitious and credible, and that they align with the highest standards of environmental integrity and transparency.

“They must also be actionable and mindful of different circumstances”, he added, outlining the main task facing the Group.

The UN chief recognized the independence of the experts and said that the best protection against “special interests” will be the full transparency of their consultations and process.

Clean energy, like wind power, is a key element in reaching net zero emissions.
Unsplash/Appolinary Kalashnikova
Clean energy, like wind power, is a key element in reaching net zero emissions.

The group’s tasks

The Expert Group, consisting of 18 members from a range of different backgrounds, will meet in-person in May— a meeting that will be attended by the Secretary-General.

Their main task is to make recommendations promoting more ambitious climate action, and environmental integrity, addressing four specific areas:

  • Current standards and definitions for setting net-zero targets.
  • Credibility criteria used to assess the objectives, measurement and reporting of net-zero pledges.
  • Processes for verification and accounting of progress towards net-zero commitments and reported decarbonization plans.
  • A roadmap to translate standards and criteria into international and national level regulations.

 

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