Public Policy

May 5, 2021

COP26 Roadmap Briefing

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Welcome to the latest edition of our COP26 countdown newsletter. On 1-12 November this year, the UK and Italy will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). A full review of preparations undertaken by the UK Government and Glasgow City Council is currently underway, and further details are expected following the Scottish Parliament elections which take place on May 6th.

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:

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the UK will commit to a 78% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035

  • Last week the UK Government announced that it is setting ambitious new targets to reduce carbon emissions across the economy. The Prime Minister announced that the Government is setting targets to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels.
  • The pledge is in line with recommendations from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and follows calls from environmental groups to implement harder targets.
  • The decision will cover the Sixth Carbon Budget (covering the years 2033-37), and the Government says it will ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change while remaining consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • The Sixth Carbon Budget will include international aviation and shipping emissions, meaning that the Government now needs to move forward with measures to decarbonise both sectors which have been traditionally been seen as hard to decarbonise.
  • The decision has been broadly welcomed by industry and politicians. However, there is scepticism by some on how the Government will achieve its plans.
  • One such figure was BEIS Select Committee Chair Darren Jones MP who said that whilst he “welcomed the Government’s move…delivery is key. We now need to see a step change from setting targets to bringing forward action plans”.
  • The announcement came prior to the US Presidents Leaders’ Summit on Climate. Boris Johnson addressed the opening session of the Summit, and during his speech, urged world leaders to “get serious” on climate change, asking countries to come to COP26 later this year “armed with ambitious targets and plans”.

The Treasury Select Committee has published a report on Net Zero and the Future of Green Finance

  • The House of Commons Treasury Select Committee last week published the final report of its inquiry into Net Zero and the Future of Green Finance.
  • The inquiry was launched in June 2019, and its scope was to look at the role of HM Treasury, regulators, and financial services in supporting the Government’s climate change commitments.
  • The inquiry’s main findings include:
  • Government should set out cost of achieving net-zero by 2050
  • A strategy is needed to support regions and sectors impacted by decarbonisation
  • Financial products should have climate impact labels
  • Greenwashing of financial products must be prevented
  • FCA should further encourage FinTech innovation and tackle regulatory barriers
  • The Committee states that the overall cost of achieving net zero is uncertain. It calls on the Government to set out the principles upon which the UK will fund the transition to net zero and says that Government should set out its own cost assessments of achieving net zero by 2050, its methodology, and highlight where the uncertainties lie.
  • On Green Finance, it suggested that the UK is lagging behind other countries in the issuance of green bonds and urges the Government to do more on the issue to provide certainty and set out its tolerance, when issuing such bonds, for them to be more expensive than other forms of Government debt.
  • In terms of regional disparities, while the Government has recognised the differing regional impacts of a green transition, the Committee says that Government should set out a framework and strategy for supporting those communities which will be most impacted by the changes. It also says that the Net Zero Review should include clear sectoral pathways towards decarbonisation and should address the key policy decisions as to the future of high carbon industries.

Other news:

  • After the plans for White House-style TV briefings were axed, it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary will be moving to the post of Boris Johnson’s official COP26 spokeswoman. A Downing Street source said that the decision was made to reflect the importance of COP26 for the Government and the growing understanding that daily press briefings were not likely to be broadcasted after Covid-19.
  • The Foreign Affairs Committee published a report on ‘Diplomatic preparations for COP26’ which stated that that the success of the summit is dependent on an integrated approach to climate change with decisions on climate change needing to be linked to decisions on international security, global health, overseas aid, and trade. The authors of the report argued that there needs to be greater ambitions ahead of COP26 and are representative of the growing concern about the lack of preparation ahead of the Summit.
  • A report from Green Alliance has found that the UK is off track to meet its climate targets and will need to double net zero spending within Parliament if they want to achieve net zero by 2050. The Green Alliance tracker has found that at the current rate, emissions will be 40% over target by 2030, partly as a result of new UK climate policies only closing the gap on carbon savings by 26% since January 2020. The think tank argued that more ambition and action is required to cut emissions across the UK in sectors such as transport, buildings, waste, industry, and agriculture;
  • Economic Secretary John Glen MP announced this week that the Green Finance Institute have been asked to co-chair and co-ordinate the Green Technical Advisory Group – a group of independent experts that will advise the government on green taxonomy. Mr. Glen said that taxonomy was an important step to shifting capital “at speed and on a large scale” into green projects and green jobs;
  • Ahead of COP26, the Work and Pensions Committee is calling for people to share their views on what the role of pension schemes should be in achieving net zero by 2050, otherwise known as “Pension Stewardship.” This comes on the back of the Pensions and Financial Inclusion Minister promising that “world leading regulations” would be implemented prior to COP26. The committee want to know how the UK’s government approach to pension scheme stewardship can inform – and should be informed by – approaches taken internationally.

EU Update:

EU officials urge cooperation against climate change at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate

  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the European Commission will suggest extending emissions trading to the transport and building sectors when it proposes sweeping measures to implement deeper emissions cuts by 2030.
  • Von der Leyen stressed that the EU has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, and that in June, the Commission will table proposals to make Europe ‘Fit for 55′.
  • She also stressed that Europe would make emission trading work not only for energy generation and industry but also for transport and for buildings, as carbon must have its price.’
  • She underlined that in the coming COP26 meeting in Glasgow, the world must show that it understands that the preceding Paris Agreement ‘is humanities’ life insurance.’
  • European Council President Charles Michel highlighted the EU’s leadership in fighting climate change and stressed the need for a global approach to carbon pricing and urged all developed countries to scale up their contributions to climate finance.
  • President Michel also added that the role of finance in the fight against climate change and the need to create a right global regulatory framework.
  • He also noted the EU’s commitment to mobilise at least 100 billion Euros a year for climate finance and invited all developed countries to increase this contribution to send a strong signal ahead of COP26.

EU negotiators clinch deal on European climate law

  • EU negotiators reached a deal on the European Climate Law, allowing the EU to go into the US-hosted climate summit with an agreement on the bloc’s 2030 target.
  • Parties reached an agreement to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by “at least 55%” by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. That objective will therefore also become a legal obligation for the EU and its member states. This 55% target is lower than the 60% that Parliament had earlier voted for.
  • EU member states made a concession to MEPs by agreeing to cap the contribution of carbon removals from land use, agriculture and forestry. In addition, the European Commission agreed to consider increasing the contribution of carbon sinks in order to bump up the EU’s climate ambition to 57%, although this is not written in the law.
  • EU negotiators also decided to establish an independent scientific advisory body, the European Scientific Advisory Board, to advise policymakers on the alignment of EU policies with the bloc’s climate neutrality goal.
  • The new body will consist of 15 members from across Europe, each nominated for a four-year mandate. It will provide scientific advice and report on existing and proposed policy measures and targets as well as greenhouse gas budgets. The European Environment Agency will act as its secretariat.
  • A win for the Parliament came on the 2040 target, which will be informed by a greenhouse gas budget, which determines how much carbon the EU can emit up to 2050 before it breaches the Paris Agreement. This will have separate calculations for emissions and carbon sinks. The 2040 target will be proposed alongside the indicative greenhouse gas budget at the latest within six months of the first global stock-take of the Paris Agreement, in 2023.
  • However, national representatives in the EU Council of Ministers did not agree to make the 2050 goal a legal obligation for every country individually. Instead, the 2050 climate goal will remain an objective for the EU to attain as a group, meaning some countries will be allowed to reach the objective later if others manage to decarbonise their economies sooner.

Frans Timmermans has met Alok Sharma, President of the COP26, in London

  • The European Commission’s Executive Vice President for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, was in London to meet Alok Sharma, folllowing Sharma’s visit to Brussels in February and a series of video conference calls.
  • Timmermans and Sharma discussed the preparations for the COP26 negotiations, the EU’s key objectives for the conference and their respective contacts with other international partners. They also dissucessed the announcements made at the summit of climate leaders organized by the US president, Joe Biden, on April 22 and 23, and how to exploit international momentum in the six months leading up to COP26.
  • The Commission has committed to making this crucial year a turning point for climate action, the transition to clean energy and the protection of nature. After reaching an agreement on European climate law last week, the EU is now working on its ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package to be presented this summer, adapting EU legislation to the ambitious goal of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Von der Leyen calls for an African green deal

  • The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Friday called for the creation of an African Green Deal which, like the European Green Deal, would be the “centrepiece” for Africa’s recovery.
  • Speaking at the opening session of the EU-Africa Forum on Green Investment in Africa, Ursula Von der Leyen called the European Green Deal the ‘new energy for growth and the centrepiece of recovery’ of the European Union.
  • She highlighted that an African Green Deal could lead a stronger and more prosperous Africa.
  • She stressed that the green transition is the biggest economic opportunity of our times and can be the engine of our recovery, simultaneously in Europe and in Africa.
  • She also added that green investments are of common European and African interest, and that it is now time to discuss how to mobilise it further, especially ahead of COP26 and the EU-Africa Summit.

EU calls face-to-face 25 May summit on virus, climate and Russia

  • Several recent EU gatherings have been held by videoconference as a Covid-19 safety measure, but a spokesman for European Council president Charles Michel said next month’s summit would be in person.
  • Next month’s summit was called just as European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that, after a slow start, the bloc’s coronavirus vaccine programme is getting up to speed.
  • The leaders will also discuss the agreement between the Commission, MEPs and national leaders on binding legislation or emissions cutting targets.

Italy Update:

Draghi to world leaders: action must be taken now

  • The Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, said at the Summit of Leaders on Climate, that it is necessary to ‘act now not to repent’ and praised the President of the United States, Joe Biden, for breaking with the policies of Donald Trump.
  • In his remarks, the prime minister thanked the current U.S. representative for taking the initiative to convene a meeting of world leaders on the climate crisis and that now his is  confident that we will overcome this challenge together.
  • The Prime Minister stressed that the pandemic cannot make the other crises faced by humanity, such as climate change, lose sight of, noting that in the Paris Agreement, nations committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, but the actions we have taken so far have proved insufficient.’
  • Draghi highlighted that national post-pandemic recovery plans offer a ’unique opportunity to transform our economies and seek greener and more inclusive growth.’Draghi cited the 750 billion euro package created by the European Union to stimulate economic recovery, of which Italy will be the largest beneficiary in absolute terms, with about 210 billion euros.
  •  The Italian Prime Minister promised to use 70 billion euros to which his country is entitled to invest in green infrastructure, circular economy and sustainable mobility
  • Draghi ended by stating that ‘strong results at the G20 will boost the chances of a successful COP26,’ and proposed a ministerial meeting on climate and energy within the group, which brings together 19 countries and the European Union.

Chinese and Italian companies can successfully cooperate according to Cingolani

  • Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, stressed on the “Italy-China: Energy Transition” conference organised by the Italian Embassy in Beijing and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China, that Chinese companies and Italian companies can successfully cooperate in fields such as renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, digitalization of energy infrastructures and beyond.
  • The minister stated that the circular economy, for example, is still a universe to explore and Italy, with its innovative companies, is ‘very well positioned.’
  • Cingolani also recalled the link between COP26 and COP15 on biodiversity that will take place in China in the autumn.
  • The minister further highlighted that Italy is working hard to revive the post-pandemic national economy, taking into account the change constituted by the energy transition and focusing on decarbonisation, in line with the principles of the European Green Deal.

Democratic Party asks Italian Government for commitment in the fight against climate change

  • On the occasion of World Earth Day by Chiara Braga, Head of Ecological Transition and Sustainability and Susanna Cenni, Head of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Policies of the Democratic Party, said that ‘safeguarding biodiversity increasingly at risk, protecting the soil and its fundamental ecosystem value, fighting climate change are the great challenges of our time.’ Adding that the government needs an ecological transition that takes care of the planet’s natural resources, for a development that is truly sustainable and inclusive.’
  • This was declared on the occasion of World Earth Day by Chiara Braga, Head of Ecological Transition and Sustainability and Susanna Cenni, Head of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Policies of the Democratic Party.
  • Cenni stated that needs to start investing in healthy, sustainable, economically accessible and resilient food systems, directing research and innovation to the objectives that the European strategy indicates: halving the use of pesticides, increasing organic production, preserving agricultural and food biodiversity.
  • She further highlighted that the quality of food production, the supervision and activity of farmers who are custodians of the earth become are fundamental hubs for the protection and safeguarding of the earth.

The Embassy of Italy in Washington hosts the Smart Cities and New Green Solutions webinar

  • The Embassy of Italy in Washington, together with the Nobel Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences, hosted the webinar ‘Smart Cities and New Green Solutions’, dedicated to the development of smart cities, aimed at the individual, with the aim of improving the long-term health of the planet’s human and ecological systems.
  • The event coincides with the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and the United States, the Italian co-presidency of COP26, as well as the Italian Research Day in the World.
  • The webinar was opened by Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, by the Italian Minister of University and Research Maria Cristina Messa and by the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Armando Varricchio.
  • Minister Messa observed how ‘the presence of thousands of Italian researchers in the most qualified research centers in the United States represents an important element in strengthening the internationalization process of our country.’
  • She added that both nations must work to foster collaborations that, on the one hand, enhance and support those who represent us abroad and, on the other hand, also allow those engaged in research projects in Italy to have the best possible conditions to be truly competitive in innovative sectors such as the digital and ecological transition.’
  • Varricchio emphasised scientific and technological cooperation, which has always been ‘one of the strengths in the strategic alliance between Italy and the United States, and we are proud to continue this great cooperation in all fields, including emerging technologies and climate, thanks to over 15,000 Italian researchers active in the US.’

 

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