Pre-COP26 Thoughts

We’re undoubtedly emerging from the covid-19 pandemic with a welcome ’’build back greener’’ attitude from (some) politicians, corporates, investors, and communities in which we live and work. There is perhaps cause for cautious optimism, particularly with recent geo-political change across The Pond, that the delayed COP26 in Glasgow over the coming fortnight will see a consensus and concerted call to action to address climate change. But, there are huge challenges and clearly a need to galvanise discussion in to action, in a short space of time.

The UK Presidency at COP26 (26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) has five stated priorities:

  1. Adaptation and resilience: ‘Helping people, economies and the environment adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.’
  2. Nature: ‘Safeguarding ecosystems, protecting natural habitats and keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.’
  3. Energy transition: ‘Seizing the massive opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage.’
  4. Accelerating the move to zero-carbon road transport: ‘By 2040, over half of new car sales worldwide are projected to be electric.’
  5. Finance: ‘We need to unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero-carbon economy.’

Securing consensus will be no mean feat, however, with over 200 countries and other organisations represented by more than 30,000 participants, obviously not including delegations from two of the planet’s biggest carbon emitters; China & Russia, amongst others.

So, here are some of the key issues we’ll be keeping an eye on during the conference:

  • Funding for loss and damage: there is currently no funding mechanism agreed by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) parties for loss or damage suffered by vulnerable countries. Unsurprisingly this concept is not wholeheartedly supported by many nations who are responsible, to some degree, for the loss or damage.
  • Nationally Determined Contributions: the signatories to the Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 set national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) reviewed every 5 years. Whether NDCs continue to be reviewed every 5 years or not will also undoubtedly be a topic for agreement in Glasgow.
  • Carbon market mechanisms: unsurprisingly there are very diverse views from UNFCCC parties on the nature and rules for these markets, which in theory would allow countries to trade carbon credits to allow continued carbon emissions.
  • Climate Finance: the Paris Agreement set a $100bn climate-related finance target per annum, for wealthier nations to support developing nations. COP26 is expected to set the next target for climate finance, to be achieved by 2025.
  • Nature-based Solutions: it’s expected that COP26 will start to discuss how to integrate ‘nature-based solutions’  (NBS) into the Paris implementation strategy, ie how natural ecosystems can be used to help sequester carbon.

Post-COP26 we’ll reflect on success, or otherwise, of the Convention in terms of outcomes and actions. We hope you’ll join the conversation.

While you’re here you may want to take a look at some of the great articles in our Countdown to COP26 series –

Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) – Are the “format wars” just beginning?

Seizing the huge opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage, whilst moving away from fossil fuels

Nature based solutions and their role in the fight against climate change

Climate finance and COP26