21 June 2024

Oxford experts advise UN Taskforce on Net Zero Policy

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Established at COP28, the United Nations Secretary General’s Taskforce on Net Zero Policy facilitates global action by non-state entities - including businesses, investors and cities - to accelerate emissions reductions and achieve net zero.

The Taskforce remit includes sharing of knowledge, practices, and insights among policymakers and regulators, and helping to ensure zero emissions commitments are underpinned by coherent policies and regulatory certainty.

Expert advisors

Two University of Oxford academics, Thom Wetzer and Thomas Hale of the Oxford Net Zero Policy and Regulation Hub, have been announced as members of the Taskforce Expert Group, comprised of leading international voices on the front lines of both net zero and policy issues.

“The need for climate action is well-understood and voluntary initiatives have made a real difference, but the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement also highlighted their limits. With implementation lagging ambition, net-zero regulations are a critical piece to fill the broader ‘implementation gap’. We need to turn a groundswell of climate action into ground rules for net zero,” says Thom Wetzer, Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment and the Faculty of Law. 

“The UN Secretary General’s Taskforce on Net Zero Policy will play a crucial role to ensure governments can overcome barriers to rigour, coherence, and fairness to ensure that net zero ‘ground rules’ have the potential to overcome the obstructionism that holds back a just climate transition.”

Guiding non-state actors

The Taskforce supports the UN High‑Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (HLEG), established in 2022 to develop stronger and clearer standards for net zero emissions pledges by non-state entities and to speed up their implementation.

The full list of Trustees and Expert Group advisors was released by the UN last week. 

Commenting on the announcement, Taskforce co-Chair Helena Vines Fiestas said, “It’s my pleasure to formally welcome our Board of Trustees and Taskforce Expert Group members. The support for the work of the Taskforce so far demonstrates a clear desire for further global convergence on the net zero policy measures relevant to non-state actors, reflecting the urgent need for greater action through efficient policies aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.”

The Taskforce team will publish a landmark and comprehensive overview of current and emerging net zero policy practice at COP29 in November 2024.