Public Policy

April 8, 2021

COP26 Roadmap Briefing

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On 1-12 November this year, the UK and Italy will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The COP26 summit, will bring together world leaders, the science community, businesses and stakeholders with the aim of moving forward towards the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The event is expected to be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted, and there are numerous opportunities for engagement both during the event and on the road to COP26. The formal deadline for applications to secure exhibition space at COP26 passed on Friday 5th March. If you have submitted an application we wish you good luck, responses are expected to be received in May. Outside of exhibiting, there are still lots of other opportunities for organisations to get involved in COP26. For details on how Instinctif can help you navigate and benefit from COP26, do take a look at our guides for the UK and the EU. For more information, please email James.Nason@instinctif.com. The below update is the combined effort of both the London and Brussels public policy offices.

UK Update:

UK hosts Climate and Development Ministerial:

  • On 31 March, the UK hosted the Climate and Development Ministerial. The meeting convened countries and partners to discuss the challenges and priorities for implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in the countries most vulnerable to climate change;
  • Attendees heard from ministers and representatives of international institutions including International Institute for Environment and Development, with much of the focus on climate finance and debt relief;
  • Speaking at the event, COP26 President Alok Sharma MP told delegates that it is “absolutely vital that we now break the inertia and find some solutions”. Sharma called for the adoption of practical solutions such as Voluntary Carbon Markets, to ensure that the green recovery is truly global;
  • The COP26 President also announced that to make progress on finance, the UK Government will bring together technical experts in April, and Heads of Delegations in May with a view to kick start a formal process;
  • Ministers from around 35 countries participated, however, while invited China did not participate.

Third of UK’s biggest companies commit to Race to Zero campaign:

  • It was confirmed last week that 30 of the UK’s FTSE100 companies have signed up to the United Nation’s Race to Zero campaign, which is aiming to get firms to commit to net zero emissions by 2050;
  • Firms including AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s, Unilever and SSE have committed to align with UK government carbon ambitions. Across the world, over 2,000 firms of all size have joined the Race to Zero campaign – a third of these are British businesses from across sectors such as transport, technology and finance. The Government is hoping that more firms will sign up as COP26 nears;
  • In May, the UK will host the Business 7 Summit (B7), where business across the G7 will discuss committing to action to tackle climate change;
  • Reckitt, have become the latest firm to become a Principal Partner for COP26. The company will become the official Hygiene Partner for COP26 and support the Government by providing advice and scientific expertise on hygiene protocols.

Prime Minister appears before the Liaison Committee and discusses UK preparations for COP26:

  • On Wednesday 24 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP appeared in front of the House of Commons Liaison Committee and COP26 was among the subjects discussed. The Committee is made up of all Select Committee Chairs to consider the overall work of select committees and questions the Prime Minister on policy several times a year;
  • Chair of the Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, expressed concern that the Summit “doesn’t look like the same consuming priority as other policies”. Johnson said that he is engaged in some form of COP conversation every day and that everyone is “gripping it across Whitehall“. Jenkin asked how often the Government’s Climate Action Strategy Committee is meeting in preparation for COP. In response, Johnson admitted that it has “not met a great deal” but that is because a lot is happening already on “an ad hoc level“;
  • BEIS Select Committee Chair Darren Jones MP, pressured Johnson on COP26 and whether the UK will encourage other nations to adopt climate targets. Johnson said that the event is “one of the single biggest priorities that any government could have” and that he expects other nations to follow with ambitious targets.

Other news:

  • On 23 March, COP26 President Alok Sharma MP gave a statement at the 5th Ministerial on Climate Action. Sharma told delegates that the world must do more on climate targets other than “restate stances, or dig-in to entrenched positions”. Sharma called on countries to “show compromise and understanding to find that balanced package which we all want”.
  • Writing in The Times, the Labour Party’s Shadow Climate Change Minister Matthew Pennycook MP, stated that the “Government must raise its game or risk failure at COP26”. Pennycook has called on the Government to secure greater ambition and action from individual countries on climate goals;
  • It has been confirmed that a four-day TED summit will take place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from October 12-15 this year, prior to the COP26 conference in Glasgow. The event will see a mix of politicians, policy makers, business groups and activists, discuss solutions to climate change;
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a reporton the UK public’s understanding and perceptions of net zero. The report found that while the majority of participants expressed concern at the current and future impact of climate change on the environment, it was seen to be such a large issue that people are unclear about how their individual actions could help. Participants in the study were also worried that achieving net zero could require a high degree of compulsion, potentially impacting people’s independence and social relationships:
  • A number of scientists and lawyers have written to ministers and the Supreme Court regarding the UK Government’s decision to ignore Paris climate agreement goals when deciding on major infrastructure projects. Experts such as former UK government chief scientist Sir David King and the economist Prof Jeffrey Sachs claim that the Government’s position risks undermining the UK’s presidency of COP26;
  • The House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry to examine the UK’s strategy for meeting the 2050 net zero target at a local level. The inquiry aims to examine the role of local Government in delivering the UK’s Net Zero 2050 ambitions, including the Government’s proposals for establishing planning guidelines and building regulations to reduce the UK’s household emissions;

EU Update:

Italy

Minister Cingolani stresses the importance of continuing nuclear fusion research:

  • During the ‘Climate Change Mitigation and Health Benefits’, a workshop organised by the UK and Italy ahead of COP26, the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, stressed that ‘if he looks at the more natural solution that exists, [he] thinks of the primary energy source of the universe, which is nuclear energy’ and that ‘is its nuclear fusion that produces energy without having waste’;
  • Cingolani stressed that ‘there are major projects in Europe and the United States, and that such studies are fundamental.’;
  • Minister Cingolani foresaw that ‘in the next 10-20 years we will talk about the possibility of use some such solution as today we are starting to talk about hydrogen in a meaningful way.’

Di Maio stresses that the environmental crisis is a global crisis and requires a global response:

  • Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio noted in a Legambiente event that ‘the pandemic has shown us that major global issues, such as environmental protection and the energy transition, need global responses that are negotiated and shared.’;
  • Di Maio stressed that Italy’s role in COP26 and the G20 will be a major test for its ‘leadership capacity in promoting principles and lines of action for a recovery based on ecological transition and on the almost infinite potential to generate wealth, well-being and employment.’;
  • Di Maio highlighted that the government believes that innovation and green solutions are the new foundations of society and that a large part of the new jobs will be generated in these sectors in the future.

Italy joins the International Solar Alliance, closing its links with India:

  • The accession was officialised with the signing of the Italian membership to the Alliance by the Ambassador of Italy to India, Vincenzo de Luca;
  • The Ambassador emphasised that ‘the energy transition towards clean sources and low-emission energy systems is a priority for Italy’. De Luca stressed his hopes that the Alliance will ‘be able to maximize synergies with the main international energy organizations’;
  • In Italy, solar energy is already the second source for the production of electricity from renewable sources, preceded only by hydroelectricity;
  • Italy’s current national plan for energy will try to triple the use of solar energy in the country, allowing for it to the first renewable source of electricity production by 2030.

Italy reaffirms its commitment to the defence of the oceans:

  • The Ambassador of Italy to Washington, Armando Varricchio, stressed in a webinar organised by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington that ‘transatlantic cooperation is essential for protecting the environment and for the future of our planet’ and that ‘Italy is ready to collaborate with the United States in terms of safeguarding the oceans’;
  • The webinar ‘Protecting Oceans and Marine Life’ was another cultural event by Italy to promote an ambitious international agenda on climate change;
  • The meeting, which also saw the participation of Nicole LeBoeuf, Acting Assistant Administrator for the National Ocean Service of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration;
  • The event allowed for dialogue between Italian and US experts engaged in various capacities.

Italian firms showcase expertise in technology for sustainable agriculture in Doha:

  • Eleven Italian companies are participating in the eighth edition of the International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) and the second International Environmental Exhibition (EnviroteQ), which will run until March 27 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre;
  • The Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas, deputy head of mission, Carlotta Colli, and trade commissioner Giosafat Rigano were present during the opening of AgriteQ;
  • The embassy’s has set a booth up at AgriteQ and EnviroteQ to provide more companies in Italy with a physical presence at the event and showcase Italy’s objectives for this year’s COP26.
  • The Ambassador at the event stressed Italy’s political commitments towards ‘the green alternative and safeguarding our planet’;
  • The 11 participating Italian companies are Agribio, Faber-Com, Fri-El Group, Idromeccanica Luchini, Kiasma, Maire Technimont, NextChem, Ponics, Watercube, Leonardo and Saipem, Prunas added.

Italy in the final squad for the assignment of the tenth world water forum:

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi di Maio, stated that cities like Florence and the Sacred Convent of Assisi are determined to host the 2024 edition;
  • Water, the minister recalled, will be a priority theme in COP26, stating that ‘water is the foundation of prosperity for peoples and the planet.’;
  • Di Maio stressed that ‘maximum space will also be dedicated to the preparatory events of COP26.’ Italy is the major contributor to the world water assessment program organised by UNESCO.

The Consulate General of Italy in Boston held an event to deepen the theme of climate change in regional US policy;

  • The event had as speakers Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Maine Governor Janet Mills as well as a panel with National Grid US President Badar Khan and National Grid UK President Nicola Shaw;
  • This event showed Italy’s ambition to promote its ambitious goals on climate change globally ahead of COP26.

European Union

European Commission and IEA pull together for net-zero:

  • Both organisation committed to pave the way for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within a generation, with the energy sector playing a crucial role, in preparation for COP26;
  • The European Commission and the International Energy Agency agreed to join forces to: Accelerate and expand the net-zero movement of governments and companies; develop a collaborative international net-zero campaign with interested partners to raise awareness and accelerate the transitions to net zero; team up with willing partners in support of African countries; and enable citizens to benefit from transition opportunities and to navigate disruptions;
  • Ahead of the IEA-COP26 Net-Zero Summit, Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans stressed: ‘The European Union is determined to reach net-zero by 2050 and we urge others to join us in this effort, […] Europe is anchoring its course with the EU Climate Law and the upcoming package of measures to deliver our -55% reduction target for 2030.’ He added that ‘the world needs a clear and predictable pathway to a clean and safe future.’ ;
  • EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson stated that accelerating a sustainable clean energy transition is ‘indispensable for achieving net-zero economies. […] that’s why we support the IEA work on the Global Commission on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions.’;
  • IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol stated that the IEA is ‘strongly committed to combatting climate change, and we have put clean energy transitions and the path to net zero at the core of our work.’

Japan and the European Union to embark on an alliance to combat climate change ahead of COP26:

  • The two sides will work together to develop new technologies, while offering development assistance to encourage Southeast and South Asian countries that depend on coal-fired power plants to introduce renewable energy. Joint projects under the partnership are being finalised;
  • Tokyo and Brussels hope to combine their respective strengths to tackle climate change more effectively;
  • Japan has been seen as lagging the EU and other major economies in fighting climate change. But Japan is researching methods to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by burying the greenhouse gas underground. The country also is strong in power generation technology using ammonia as a fuel;
  • The U.S. and EU have previously criticized Japan’s support for coal projects abroad. Exporting coal technology to energy-hungry markets such as Southeast Asia risks stymieing efforts to reduce emissions. Tokyo is considering cutting off support for exports of coal-fired power plants;
  • Soon, a Japanese expert panel will discuss the idea of a carbon border tax, along with other carbon pricing methods, at its first meeting Wednesday. But deep-rooted concern exists in Tokyo about the potential for such systems to create trade frictions.

Little progress made in fifth round of negotiations on EU climate law;

  • Trilogues are being held behind closed doors in an attempt to find an agreement between the Parliament and the Council of Ministers;
  • EU member states did not give the Council a new mandate to negotiate on their behalf, meaning it could not change its position;
  • Michael Bloss, a Green MEP from Germany, stated ‘We achieved nothing. There is no deal on anything. There’s no progress.’;
  • Parliament’s lead negotiator, Jytte Guteland, was more positive and stated ‘I think we had some progress on the middle-sized questions. Now we can focus on the big ones during the next, and hopefully last trilogue. It will all be about 2030 and 2050.’;
  • Parliament negotiators had initially expected substantial progress to be made on proposals to introduce a greenhouse gas budget and establish a European Climate Change Council, an EU scientific advisory body whose role is to verify the bloc’s alignment with the Paris climate goals.

Timmermans believes that a greener farm reform is still possible:

  • European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans met this week with a group of climate campaigners led by Greta Thunberg who urged him to withdraw current proposals to reform the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy;
  • Activists criticised the EU’s farm reform for failing to address the climate and ecological emergency and reiterated their call on the Commission to withdraw the EU’s farm reform proposal, saying it is ‘a direct violation’ of the Paris Agreement on climate change;
  • Timmermans stated in the meeting that ‘the Commission remains committed to making the CAP fulfil the objectives of the European Green Deal. [Reform] is still possible.’ ;
  • The reform of the EU’s agriculture programme has entered the final stages of negotiation, with three-way talks currently taking place between EU member states representatives and the European Parliament, with the Commission acting as a mediator;
  • The green aspect of the CAP is still a divisive issue between EU countries and the European Parliament. The most contentious is the so-called eco-scheme introduced under the CAP’s first pillar, which deals with direct payments to farmers, and is designed to reward them for green agricultural practices.

The European Committee of the Regions addressed four draft opinions on the green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis:

  • 4 draft opinions were presented and debated during the meeting as local and regional authorities want to ensure green recovery and stronger climate commitments;
  • Discussions involved how to deliver safe and sustainable chemicals for a toxic-free environment, the EU’s strategy for energy system integration, how to protect the seas as well as a how to set up the EU’s climate ambitions towards COP26;
  • Juan Espadas, Mayor of Seville and Chair of the CoR’s ENVE Commission and Green Deal Going Local working party, opened the meeting by noting that ahead of COP26, the European Union must not only set a clear example in setting up climate targets to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, but also’ provide concrete solutions to properly involve local and regional authorities.’;
  • Members approved the improved partnership arrangement between the CoR and DG ENER, which outlines collaborative efforts to ensure the Renovation Wave’s successful implementation.

 

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