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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Eliot Whittington speaking at COP26

On 13 November, a final COP26 agreement was reached within the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow. The Glasgow Climate Pact will mean that all nations should formulate and publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030 by the time COP27 begins in Egypt. They should strive to align targets and plans with a 1.5C temperature pathway. 

Here are concluding comments from CISL’s Research Director, Sustainable Finance, Dr Nina Seega and Policy Director, Eliot Whittington.

 CISL Policy Director and UK and European Corporate Leaders Groups Director Eliot Whittington said: “Glasgow has triggered a wave of new commitments and actions and we welcome not only what has been achieved but the energy that has been generated around the summit. COP26 hasn’t kept us on a path for warming levels below the vital 1.5C, but if the range of commitments from governments, business and investors to deliver real action is reflected in and inspires more ambitious new targets next year then we still have a chance of doing this - that is insufficient but undeniable and positive progress. 

“The energy and activity that has been shown on the sides of the formal COP negotiations – from youth movements looking at how to change the system, to financiers working out how to move their money, to businesses committing to innovate and invest – has in many ways been the most positive part of the event and these discussions and plans for changes in the economy are what should be urgently picked up. We are entering the decade of delivery, perhaps the last decade when we can manage climate impacts rather than have them manage us and even as the global negotiations make slow progress, there’s a tangible increase in the appetite for change.

“But there is understandable caution from all sides about whether these warm words will result in real change and for every plan or pledge in the right direction we need to know how and when these will be delivered, and what mechanisms will be used to measure progress. We must not fritter away any time misunderstanding the difference between the green economy and greenwash.

“Glasgow has demonstrated that the Paris Agreement is working as intended– but that our delivery is far too slow. We have to do more and that should start with implementing and accelerating what has been agreed here at COP26.”

Dr Nina Seega, Research Director, Sustainable Finance, CISL said: “The introduction of direct fossil fuels language into the main text of the agreement must be seen as a turning point in COP negotiations; this, as well as the progress made on ending the financing of fossil fuels abroad, indicate that COP26 has cut a less uncertain path toward tackling climate change at the levels needed to prevent catastrophic impacts. The announcement of the collaboration between China and the US is important geopolitically as well as presenting an opportunity to accelerate coal phaseout, bring China into the discussion on methane and put a stop to illegal deforestation imports. The commitment of 137 countries, covering 90% of global forests to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 is integral to the goal of creating a nature positive and a net zero future. However much remains to be done. The key to all these pledges would be setting short term targets and moving into immediate implementation. 

“As we move from pledges into action, the consolidation of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the Value Reporting Foundation into the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), will go some way to creating global alignment in the area of standards and frameworks. An agreement on Article 6, creating viable and properly structured carbon market, will also support increased ambition on NDCs.  

“Glasgow has been the first COP with a major emphasis on mainstream finance. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero has committed USD130 trillion to the net zero transition, which will need to be backed up by individual net zero commitments and transition plans. Viable delivery mechanisms, including blended finance, and guarantees, will be required to ensure finance reaches emerging markets where it is most needed. An agreement on doubling adaptation finance and acknowledgement of the lack of progress on delivering the USD100bn needs to be underpinned with swift implementation to enable vulnerable countries still to plan and deliver their adaptation and mitigation programmes in earnest.

“These intense two weeks in Glasgow have opened the door to raising ambition on the NDC commitments in 2022. However, we need to increase the pace of decarbonisation and supplement it with viable adaptation efforts if we are to stay true to our ambition to limit warming to 1.5C and protect vulnerable communities.”


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