The week started as the meeting of the G20 countries was concluding and leaders were leaving Rome for Glasgow. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, left Rome “with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried."
I wonder how he feels now at the end of the first week of COP26? There have been many useful announcements:
On coal - more than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal, in pledges made at the summit and by the UN’s Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, responsible for $10 trillion in assets. They have committed to phase out most thermal coal assets by 2030 for industrialized countries and worldwide by 2040. Major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam and Chile are among those to make this pledge.
On trees - 133 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe endorsed the declaration on forest and land use, committing to collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
On methane - 106 nations signed a joint U.S.-European Union pledge to collectively reduce global methane emissions 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.
On finance – this the first COP to consider the issue of financing the transition. An acknowledgement that public finance alone cannot pay for all that is needed and the financial world wants to step up. This is led largely by Mark Carney, Former Governor of the Bank of England and UN special adviser. His drive has led to the focus this year and that has been matched by the engagement of the financial world and a main driver for the City of London Corporation. The formation of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) has brought together businesses with more than $130trn (£95trn) of private capital which "is now committed to transforming the economy for net zero". In total, 450 firms controlling 40% of global financial assets have agreed to commit to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The UK is showing leadership here with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stating that London would become the first financial centre committed to net zero. This is alongside making mandatory disclosures of exposure to climate risks (TCFD) and committing £100 million of funding into the developing world to help them take up these financial offers.
Despite these pledges and the Nationally Determined Contributions that the attending nations need to provide, the goal of only a 1.5 degree temperature rise is not yet in sight. It is considered to be on track for slightly less than 2 degrees. At the same time the Pacific leaders are calling for developed nations to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 – forcing the pace since a commitment to 2050, 2060 or 2070 needs marker points on the way in order to be accountable. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Glasgow and other Cities around the world to press home this point that the leaders of nations are not acting fast enough.
Let’s see if week 2 can deliver more.
I will be attending COP26 on Thursday 11 November – the day committed to “Cities, Regions and Built Environment” - advancing action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions. I will be pleased to talk about the work of the City of London Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy and our plans for this City. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/environmental-health/climate-action/climate-action-strategy