Thom Wetzer joins UN Taskforce on Net Zero Policy

Thom Wetzer

The Taskforce on Net Zero Policy, established by the United Nations Secretary General at COP28, is a group of leading international agencies that have convened to advance net zero aligned policies by encouraging the sharing of knowledge, practices, and insights among policymakers and regulators. Last week Thom Wetzer, Associate Professor of Law and Finance and Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme, was appointed to the Taskforce Expert Group.

This comes after the establishment of the Net Zero Regulation and Policy Hub, an initiative of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme and the Blavatnik School of Government and supported by the Oxford Martin School. Wetzer co-leads this Hub together with Professor Thomas Hale, who also joins the UN Taskforce.

“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 play a critical role to fill the ‘implementation gap’ identified in the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement. We need to turn a groundswell of climate action into ground rules for net zero,” says Wetzer.

The UN Secretary General’s Taskforce on Net Zero Policy will play a crucial role to ensure governments can overcome the 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.

Climate change is well understood to pose material, existential risks to businesses, investors, and societies around the world. With rates of warming continuing to accelerate and efforts to align with a 1.5°C future thus far unsuccessful, the need for action from policymakers and non-state actors alike has never been more urgent. In a recent speech, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres acknowledged the vital role that non-state actors have to play in realising the global shift to net zero.

The Taskforce has a remit to gather and produce insights which help align the credibility and accountability of 1.5°C-aligned net zero emissions commitments by non-state actors with effective coherent policies and regulatory certainty. It also confirmed that it has plans to produce a landmark report, to be published at COP29 and presented to the Secretary General, which will take stock of current trends and themes on net zero policy in relation to the recommendations of the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities.

The Taskforce’s Board of Trustees is formed of senior representatives from organisations at the confluence of climate and policy issues and sets the strategy and priorities of Taskforce. The Taskforce Expert Group (TEG) is formed from technical experts, including climate change mitigation and climate adaptation, corporate regulation, financial regulation, environmental and real economy sector policies, just transition policies, and financial markets. Specifically, TEG members are expected to help shape the work of the Taskforce by providing guidance, research, and analysis which will inform the Taskforce’s outputs. 

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. With the support of our Trustees and TEG members, we have an incredibly high-quality pool of knowledge to draw on to inform the insights we will present at COP29.”