COP26 – Baachu Summary

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

Headlines

With COP26 now having drawn to a close, the BSA has prepared a summary of some of the key announcements coming out of Glasgow. This follows the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons this afternoon in which he said Cop26 has filled him with optimism the world will get to net zero.

The conference opened with four main goals:

1. MITIGATION — Secure global net zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

2. ADAPTATION—Urgently adapt to protect communities & natural habitats

3. MOBILISING FINANCE

4. COLLABORATION—Work together to accelerate action

The priority was to encourage commitments which would ‘keep the 1.5 alive’ – that is to say avoid global temperature increases above 1.5 degrees. This is a core global target and refers to the aspirational goal inscribed in the landmark Paris Agreement.

UK requirements for listed companies and financial institutions

The largest announcement from a UK perspective came from the Chancellor last Wednesday when he declared that the ‘UK will be the world’s first net zero financial centre’.

Over $130 trillion – 40% of the world’s financial assets – will now be aligned with the climate goals in the Paris Agreement, thanks to climate commitments from financial services firms.

Under the proposals, there will be new requirements for UK financial institutions and listed companies to publish net zero transition plans that detail how they will adapt and decarbonise as the UK moves towards to a net zero economy by 2050.

To guard against greenwashing, a science-based ‘gold standard’ for transition plans will be drawn up by a new Transition Plan Taskforce, composed of industry and academic leaders, regulators, and civil society groups. The BSA will be engaging with the taskforce as further details are published.

During COP it was also announced that over half of the UK’s largest businesses have committed to eliminate their contribution to carbon emissions by 2050. Over 5,200 companies of all sizes have now joined the UN Race to Zero – of which over 2,500 are referred to as UK companies.

Glasgow Climate Pact

The central announcement from the two weeks of negotiations was the publication of a deal aimed at staving off dangerous climate change. The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.

A commitment to phase out coal that was included in earlier negotiation drafts has been the focus of much of the media reporting after India and China led opposition to it. Countries agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal, amid expressions of disappointment by some. COP26 President Alok Sharma said that he was “deeply sorry” for how events had unfolded.

The Paris Rulebook, the guidelines for how the Paris Agreement is delivered, was also completed after six years of discussions. This includes Article 6, which establishes a robust framework for countries to exchange carbon credits through the UNFCCC.

You can read all of the documents coming out of COP26 here.

The Prime Minister’s statement at the close of the conference can be read here.

Wider announcements

Other headlines over the last two weeks include:

  • ‘30 by 30’ – 100 nations pledged to reduce methane levels by 30% by 2030.
  • Reforestation – over 100 nations pledged to begin reforesting previously devasted areas by 2030. Involves a mixture of public and private funding amounting to approximately $20bn.
  • ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ – 40 nations pledged to support investment in innovation in deprived countries. This includes the Clean Green Initiative in which the UK has pledged more than £3bn over five years and new guarantees to support clean infrastructure projects
  • ISSB – the UK government joined 40 international partners from 6 continents to welcome the establishment of the IFRS Foundation’s new International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) at COP26.
  • No to coal – 190 countries and organisations have agreed to end coal fired power although none of the three major coal powered nations (China, India, Australia) have committed. South Africa is also to be paid around $8.5bn to move away from coal.
  • Climate aid – UK pledge of over £290m of foreign aid to help those nations who will be most affected by the climate emergency.
  • S&I Day – Science and Innovation Day at COP26 saw the announcement of a range of initiatives backed by global coalitions of nations, businesses and scientists. This included the launch of Mission Innovation and Adaption Resilience Alliance.

The House of Commons Library’s briefing ahead of COP26 can be read here.

Recent Blog

COP26 – Baachu Summary

Headlines With COP26 now having drawn to a close, the BSA has prepared a summary of some of the key announcements coming out of Glasgow.

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