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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


The UK is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference – known as COP26 – in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021. The summit is poised to be one of the most consequential climate events since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

A managed and just transition to net zero by 2050 at the latest is the only way to shift the current trajectory. It means businesses, government, civil society and communities going all in to solve the climate crisis, halving emissions by 2030 and keeping the global temperature increase to below 1.5C.

CISL key asks at COP26  

  • All countries must work with the UK COP presidency to set urgently increase efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement and keep global temperature increases to less than 1.5°C. Leaders’ plans need to align with the science. We are at 1.1C now, rapid change is vital.  
  • Business, finance and government must use this moment to collaborate and collectively set out concrete plans that can dramatically accelerate the pace of change over the next decade. ​The technologies needed to keep the world on track for 1.5C exist, but it will take the most powerful economic and political actors to implement the solutions at the scale and speed needed. Everyone needs to set a net zero goal and a near term target that drives change towards that goal starting now.   
  • Governments need to ensure a just transition where no one is left behind, and all societies are empowered with a positive, collective vision of a net zero future. Rich countries must honour the aid promised to developing countries in the Paris Agreement, acknowledging the $100bn per year commitment must be seen as a floor, not a ceiling.  
  • Companies are crucial to the economic transition and need to rethink their purpose and priorities, in line with delivering value for society and a net zero future. This will almost inevitably require a rewiring of their core functions such as boards, governance, strategy, culture and innovation to be compatible with net zero as well as the fundamentally aligned goals of nature positive, circular economy and inclusive societies.  
  • Financial institutions underpin present and future global systems and need to take an active and assertive role in delivering a climate transition. This includes supporting the mobilisation of capital towards low-income countries, to meet the trillions emerging economies and developing countries need to decarbonize and build climate resilience.  
  • Radical collaboration that translates momentum into serious action needs to be the focus of all actors. The changes needed to deliver the multiple parts of this transition need to be actioned beyond the corporate bottom line or the domestic political term.