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COP26 
DEMYSTIFIED

Unpacking the Glasgow Climate Pact

Key takeaways for Industry Associations & Professional Bodies.

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Our summary on the highlights and breakthroughs from COP26, especially for associations. 

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Catch up on our post-COP26 discussion and what the Glasgow Climate Pact means for you.

Participants included Peter Betts CB, CBE

Strategic Advisor at ECF, WTW, CCC, IRENA, Nathan Bennett from RenewableUK, Emma Piercy from Food and Drink Federation, Mike Spicer from PolicyDepartment Ltd and Sophie House CAFA's COP26 Policy lead.

 

Facilitated by Nik Gowing from Thinking the Unthinkable, our goal was to demystify the outcomes of talks and what this means for Associations. With collaboration and action being two of the major outcomes, Associations have a critical role to play to drive policy, ensure transparency, forge cross sector alliances and ensure future skills.

Latest News- 13 November 2021

Historic moment as COP26 agreement adopted

After days of difficult and lengthy negotiations, the COP26 agreement has finally been adopted.  A day later than scheduled, the announcement brings to a close what is widely seen as the most crucial climate summit of our time.

 

The final text includes key language on ‘phasing down’ fossil fuels.  This is less ambitious than an earlier draft which called for ‘phasing out’ but still an historic first to include in an agreement.  Another notable inclusion is the request that nations should return in 2022 with more ambitious pledges for emissions cuts by 2030.  But developing countries are unhappy that the text contains little on compensation from wealthy nations for  loss and damage due to climate change. 

 

While many experts and leaders welcomed the progress made with this agreement, they lamented the last-minute scaling back of ambitions on coal. Countries must now take the actions that they have promised, and in particular increase the flow of financial support to developing countries.

 

Commenting on the development, CEO of CAFA Alison Heppenstall said:
 

"While the last-gasp change on coal is disappointing we should recognise the progress that this deal represents. It wasn’t easy to reach and the text on fossil fuels, though watered down, is still significant. But the success of COP26 must be measured by the change it inspires in communities. Governments may need an extra year to strengthen their emissions targets but as associations, we know our time to act is now. In the UK alone, around 80% of people belong to a membership group. The positive influence we can bring to the race to zero is enormous. CAFA will support associations around the world play their full role as champions of climate action."

 

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Key Developments 12 November 2021

Negotiations enter last stretch, pledge to end the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2040 and alliance launched to stop future oil and gas production

  • The new draft agreement drawn up on the last day of COP26 has watered down commitments to end the use of fossil fuels.  A final deal will require the unanimous consent of nearly 200 countries that signed the Paris agreement.
     

  • A coalition of 24 countries and several leading car firms have agreed to end the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2040.  Nations with large car industries such as the US, China, Japan and Germany remain absent from the deal.
     

  • Several countries joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which launched on Thursday, promising to stop future oil and gas production within their borders. So far no significant oil producing nations, including the UK, have signed up.

COP26 Day 12 - 10 November 2021

New initiative launched to establish ‘green shipping’ corridors

Twenty countries have agreed to establish ‘green shipping corridors’, covering both ports and vessels along which ships can travel burning zero-emissions fuels.  The signatories to the initiative, known as the Clydebank Declaration, commit themselves to develop technology, expertise and port infrastructure as part of a strategy to decarbonise the entire industry by 2050.

Shipping emits over a billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, accounting for 2.9% of all human-made emissions.  Under a business-as-usual scenario, that figure could double by 2050. The aim of the declaration is to support the establishment of at least 6 green corridors by the middle of this decade, while aiming to scale activity up in the following years. Initial analysis has identified two promising candidates: the iron ore route from Australia to Japan, and container shipping from Asia to Europe. The latter is currently responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other route.

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COP26 Day 12 - 12 November 2021

UK pledges £27.5m to support cities targeting net zero

The UK government has announced £27.5 million in funding over the next four years for a new Urban Climate Action programme (UCAP).  The initiative will support cities and regions in developing countries to take climate action. It will help them implement climate action plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and prepare low-carbon infrastructure projects to reduce emissions.

By 2050, 1.6 billion people living in cities will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures.  Many of these will be vulnerable to sea level rises and coastal flooding. The world’s urban buildings are responsible for around 40% of global emissions and decarbonising the built environment is key in combating climate change. To date 1,000 cities and regions representing over a fifth of the global urban population have committed to reducing their emissions to net zero by 2050.

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COP26 Day 12 - 12November 2021

$US1.2 trillion in real estate assets under management committed to halving emissions by 2030

The Race to Zero campaign announced a breakthrough in the real estate sector. US$1.2 trillion in real estate assets under management are now committed to halving emissions by 2030, along with 20% of architects and engineers.  Over 100 SME construction companies across 10 countries have also joined the campaign. Race to Zero is a global alliance of non-state actors who are committed to halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.

Race to Zero signatories to are required to publish their action plans for delivering against their commitment annually. The real estate asset management companies will need to bring their property portfolio to net zero carbon.   This will help grow demand for low-emission buildings and construction material and drive emission reductions.

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Latest News- 11 November 2021

US and China announce surprise agreement to work together on cutting emissions

The world’s two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide unveiled on Wednesday a joint declaration that would boost cooperation on emissions cuts that are needed in the next 10 years to stay within 1.5C.

 

The agreement calls for ‘concrete and pragmatic’ regulations in decarbonisation, reducing methane emissions and fighting deforestation. The two countries’ leaders are expected to hold a virtual meeting as early as next week.

The unexpected announcement that the US and China would work together to tackle climate change has been broadly welcomed by politicians and activists.  But experts warned that concrete action must be taken to deliver on the promises.

Commenting on the development, CEO of CAFA Alison Heppenstall said:


‘A meaningful, global agreement at COP26 isn’t possible without the world’s biggest countries committing to change. So the US-China pact must be welcomed. Not just as a positive step in itself but because it could tip the balance for other nations. Actions are what matter but this augurs well for the last days of the conference.’

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Key Developments 10 November 2021

First draft of COP26 agreement published, latest analysis shows world heading for 2.4C warming and Barack Obama’s COP26 speech

  • UK PM urges nations to ‘pull out the stops’ to curb global warming as the draft agreement setting out how countries will cut emissions to avoid warming above 1.5C is published. It will now have to be negotiated and agreed by those countries.
     

  • New national pledges to cut greenhouse gases by 2030 would lead to around 2.4C of global warming by 2100.   The Climate Action Tracker group said that countries’ climate plans for the next decade are inconsistent with long-term net zero targets.
     

  • Barack Obama arrived at the start of the crucial second week of COP26. In a speech to delegates he said the world must settle for compromise and urged young people to pressure their leaders to do more to combat climate change.

COP26 Day 9 - 10 November 2021

28 companies pledge to accelerate use of decarbonised hydrogen

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) announced on Tuesday a new initiative to accelerate the development of the hydrogen market. Pledges across demand, supply and financial or technical support have been made by 28 companies representing different sectors from mining to energy, vehicle and equipment manufacturers, and financial services.

On the demand side, the pledges focus on replacing grey hydrogen. ‘Grey’ refers to the method of production and is the most used. Some greenhouse gases are released in this process. This initiative would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14 million tons a year.  On the supply side, the pledges would avoid about 190 million tons a year of CO2 emissions if it replaces grey hydrogen, natural gas for industrial heat and petroleum fuels in transportation. A stable investment framework will accelerate the deployment of clean hydrogen, creating numerous opportunities for employment and economic development.

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COP26 Day 9 - 10November 2021

Solar Investment Action Agenda launched

On Tuesday the World Resources Institute (WRI), in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Bloomberg Philanthropies, launched a Solar Investment Action Agenda.  The aim of the initiative is to identify opportunities for scaling up solar energy and reach ISA’s goal of mobilizing US$1 trillion by 2030.  The Action Agenda and Solar Investment Roadmap that will follow in 2022 will help governments and investors expand solar energy for households, electrical utilities and industry.

 

Huge growth and investment in solar generation capacity will be required to meet global climate and development goals.  Scaling up solar deployment will provide more people with access to clean electricity, create jobs, improve human health, and advance gender equality. In addition, clean electricity from solar can meet growing demand across a range of end uses, including buildings, transport and agriculture. Next generation solar technologies are critical for enabling the industrial sector to decarbonise.

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COP26 Day 9 - 10November 2021

UK backs new small nuclear technology with £210 million

The UK government has committed £210 million to support the development of new nuclear reactors, matched by private sector funding of over £250 million. Each small modular reactor (SMR) could be capable of powering 1 million homes.  In contrast to most nuclear power plants which are designed from scratch, SMRs are meant to be mass-produced and therefore more cost-effective.  The UK government is also trying to make nuclear cheaper with legislation called the Nuclear Energy Financing Bill.  It would establish a new financing model for nuclear projects, reducing build costs and ultimately energy bills.

 

Nuclear power produces very few greenhouse gas emissions and offers a sustained stream of electricity. For this reason, some argue that nuclear power has an important role to play to help limit dangerous climate change by helping reduce dependency on volatile fossil fuels. The UK is investing up to £1.7 billion to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to a final investment decision, and a new £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to provide targeted support towards further nuclear projects. New nuclear energy projects are expected to create good, high-skilled jobs.

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COP26 Day7  - 08 November 2021

Billions pledged to help protect nature as several initiatives launched

Bringing together 45 governments, the UK has launched a nature action agenda committed to urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming.  The UK has pledged a £500 million package to help protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation.  This is part of its commitment to spend at least £3 billon of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity.  The funding will create thousands of green jobs in sustainable agriculture and forestry throughout rainforest regions and generate £1 billion of green private sector investment to tackle climate change around the world.

In the private sector almost 100 high-profile UK companies made a joint commitment to halt and reverse nature decline and deliver ‘nature positive’ operations by the end of the decade. Major food and clothes retailers including M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have pledged to cut their environmental impact across climate, deforestation and nature in a ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ with WWF.

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Key Developments 08 November 2021

UK pledges new funding for climate adaptation, large climate demonstrations take place across the globe and can recent pledges hold warming below 2C?

  • The UK has announced £290m of new funding to help poorer countries cope with climate change impacts. This comes as talks turn to adaptation of climate impacts and addressing loss and damage.
     

  • About 100,000 people marched in Glasgow on Saturday, while hundreds of climate change demonstrations took place in the rest of the UK and around the world.  Demonstrators are demanding bolder and more radical action on the climate crisis.
     

  • The International Energy Authority says pledges made at COP26 so far could potentially hold warming to 1.8C.  But climate experts and UN negotiators warn that government policies still put the world on track for 2.7C of warming.

COP26 Day7  - 08 November 2021

Billions pledged to help protect nature as several initiatives launched

Bringing together 45 governments, the UK has launched a nature action agenda committed to urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming.  The UK has pledged a £500 million package to help protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation.  This is part of its commitment to spend at least £3 billon of international climate finance on nature and biodiversity.  The funding will create thousands of green jobs in sustainable agriculture and forestry throughout rainforest regions and generate £1 billion of green private sector investment to tackle climate change around the world.

In the private sector almost 100 high-profile UK companies made a joint commitment to halt and reverse nature decline and deliver ‘nature positive’ operations by the end of the decade. Major food and clothes retailers including M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have pledged to cut their environmental impact across climate, deforestation and nature in a ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ with WWF.

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COP26 Day 7 - 08 November 2021

Cost of climate crisis in developing world to far exceed aid pledged by richer nations

A UN report finds that the cost of adapting to climate change in the developing world could be up to $300bn per year by 2030 and $500bn by 2050.   This is between five and 10 times higher than the financial aid richer countries are giving in support. Current levels of climate finance, covering both mitigation and adaptation, are not expected to reach the pledged $100bn a year until 2023, although US envoy John Kerry recently suggested that it might be available by 2022.

 

The impacts of climate change, such as wildfires and floods, will increase even if warming is limited to 1.5C.  UNEP, who produced the report, says that funding is required now and needs to be much more ambitious to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change.  The findings come ahead of Monday’s COP26 talks on adaptation, loss and damage. Several groups, including the Climate Vulnerable Forum block of nations, have said that what happens today could ‘make or break’ the deal.  The UK government’s £290m pledge to developing countries is an attempt to get the day off to a positive start.

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COP26 Day 7 - 08 November 2021

New report finds that low-carbon solutions are becoming competitive in many sectors of the economy.

UK-based sustainability consultants Systemiq found that low-carbon solutions are reaching competitiveness across electricity and road transport.  Their report, The Paris Effect – COP26 Edition suggests that the next decade will see disruptive trends in many sectors including trucking, food and agriculture, aviation and shipping, with all sectors capable of implementing competitive green solutions by 2030. This is part of a wider trend of green technologies approaching tipping points where they become cheaper than fossil fuels.

 

The findings show that investment in new carbon-heavy infrastructure is now too risky, not just for the climate, but could put economies in danger of falling behind.  But the report notes that although progress is accelerating on some fronts, the pace of change in other sectors is too slow. Energy efficiency, heat pumps and direct carbon removal, along with financing for nature-based solutions, are all identified as policy and investment targets.

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Key Developments 05 November 2021

More commitments to cut use of fossil fuels including coal and COP26 pledges could limit warming to below 2C

  • Over 20 countries and banks have committed to halt all financing for fossil fuel development overseas. Spending will be diverted to green energy instead from 2022. Big fossil fuel funders, China and Russia, have shunned the initiative.
     

  • 47 countries pledge to phase out coal but significant users including China, India and the US did not sign up. The announcement comes as CO2 levels reported to have bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels.
     

  • Latest pledges made at COP26 could limit warming to 1.9C, according to one study. They would have to be fully implemented along with existing targets.  The analysis showed that to get closer to 1.5C large emission cuts must happen this decade.