Public Policy

June 7, 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). There is now under six months to go until the start of the Conference, and the UK Government remain committed to hosting a physical summit. Firms who made an application to host an event in the Green or Blue Conference Zones will have now been told about the success of their application.

However, there are other opportunities to make the most of the Summit. 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 Government launches Together for Our Planet Business Leaders campaign:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last week launched the Together for our Planet Business Leaders campaign which is calling on every small business in the UK to take small, practical steps to cut their emissions as part of the UK’s journey to net zero;
  • The campaign will provide small businesses with access to some of the UK’s biggest firms as well as leading climate experts to support them in taking the steps required to cut their emissions;
  • The Prime Minister said, “Every step that a small business takes on their journey to net zero adds up”, with Kwasi Kwarteng adding that “small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as we transition to a green future, they will also be the backbone of the UK tackling climate change”.

Other news:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson will next week open the G7 summit on 11 June. The summit is being held in Cabris Bay Cornwall. The Prime Minister said he wants to unite the G7 nations to create a “greener, more prosperous future” following the pandemic;
  • Last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak called on G7 members to take collective action towards securing a green and global economic recovery. Sunak co-hosted a virtual meeting of the G7 Finance Ministers alongside the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey, calling on them to work together to ensure that tackling climate change is prioritised in economic and financial policy moving forward;
  • The Trade Unions Congress has published a report stating that the UK is behind other G7 nations on green finance and jobs. According to the report, on a per-person basis, the UK is committing the equivalent of 6 % of the amount of funding to the green recovery from COVID-19 pledged by the US, and 13% of that pledged by Italy. Of G7 nations, the report has the UK in second-last place, behind Japan;
  • Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that the UK could fail to meet its targets at COP26 due to the Government moving forward with reducing its overseas aid spending commitments. Brown said that by cutting its international aid budget has damaged the UK’s reputation abroad and it should rectify this by increasing its climate adaptation funding plans.
  • COP26 President Alok Sharma delivered a speech at the first Net Zero Pensions summit on the importance of ensuring pension funds were being invested in a “green future”. Sharma emphasised that the pensions sector has a “major role” to play in ensuring finance begins to flow to climate action, and he urged all financial institutions to join the 160 firms that have already signed up to the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero;
  • The UK Government has issued its response to the BEIS Select Committee’s report on the Scrutiny of Preparations for COP26. Referencing the accusations made by former COP President Claire O’Neill that Whitehall could not manage climate preparations without “descending into a series of turf wars about budget and influence”, the Government stated this was no longer the case and that a significant number of Departments were now working in the coordinated ways expected across government;
  • The Labour Party has launched a ‘Just Transition Working Group’ made up of Shadow Ministers unions, industry leaders, members of the climate movement and communities. The Group’s aim is to ensure that “fairness is at the heart of the Labour’s approach to decarbonisation;
  • Ahead of COP26, councils in the host city of Glasgow have pledged to plant 18m trees across the area – equivalent to 10 trees for every resident. The Councils are the latest local authorities to commit to increasing tree cover in urban areas;
  • The International Energy Agency is forecasting a 10% year-on-year increase in global energy investments, bringing levels to almost pre-pandemic proportions. The IEA’s World Energy Investment report states that 70% of the total amount that will go towards generation this year will go towards renewables.

EU Update:

EU and Japan seal ‘green alliance’ in bid for climate neutrality:

  • The European Union and Japan have reaffirmed their “shared ambition of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” at the conclusion of a bilateral summit which included the signature of an EU-Japan ‘Green Alliance’;
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga committed to “join forces to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and build more resilient, inclusive, green and digital economies”;
  • Both sides said they were committed to promoting innovation in green technologies, including enhanced energy efficiency and large-scale deployment of renewable energy, as the focus of their respective strategies for realising the energy transition;
  • Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate chief, said Europe and Japan “will work to make our commitment under the Paris Agreement a reality and push to grow global momentum ahead of COP26.”;
  • Timmermans added that this is the EU’s first Green Alliance, a true milestone in our efforts to create a global coalition for net zero by the middle of the century.

EU and Bill Gates makes joint push for $1bn to accelerate green tech:

  • The European Commission has announceda partnership with Bill Gates’ sustainable energy funding vehicle with the goal of unlocking new investments for clean tech and sustainable energy projects totalling up to $1 billion (€820 million) over five years (2022-2026):
  • EU-based projects the partnership will initially focus on four sectors that are being prioritized for their potential to deliver substantial reductions in regional emissions — namely: green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture, and long-duration energy storage.
  • The goal of the partnership is to scale technologies that are currently too expensive to compete with fossil-fuel-based incumbent technologies.
  • The pair said they will continue to work on setting up the program over the coming months, with an eye on having something further to announce at the COP-26 conference in November.
  • This is the first time the commission and Gates’ Breakthrough Energy organization have worked together on funding sustainable investment. But the scale of this latest partnership dwarfs the €100 million fund the EU established back in 2019 with its venture investment funding arm.

EU countries need to face the consequences of higher climate goals according to Timmermans:

  • The EU’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans in an exclusive interview with Euractiv noted that revision of EU Emissions Trading Scheme will be “cornerstone” of upcoming package of EU energy and climate proposals due in July;
  • He highlighted that one of the main jobs in the months to come is to convince China, India and others to join the fight against climate change;
  • Timmermans stressed that in COP26, there is a need to be able to conclude that staying well under a 2°C increase in global temperatures is still feasible, noting the EU belief in its emissions trading scheme (ETS);
  • Moreover, Frans Timmermans added that there is a need to get the finances organised in a way in which countries are on board and have a stake on the fight.

Europe calls for more ambitious climate policies ahead of COP26:

  • Jacob Werksman, a senior EU official at DG Environment has said that the world needs to match climate goals with policies, though stressing that reaching net zero by 2050 would be a significant accomplishment;
  • He noted that policies are needed to achieve countries’ targets to tackle climate change and that will be the real test of ambition, referring to an upcoming package of energy and climate laws that the European Commission will put forward in July;
  • He also stressed that ‘”It’s the first time where [the US, EU and China] are actually vying for the mantle of leadership in terms of taking action on climate change.”

Italy Update

Draghi reaffirms Italian commitment to fighting climate change at COP26:

  • The Italian Prime Minister speaking at the Global Solution Summit together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that at COP26 Italy has two main objectives, stressing that “climate change is a challenge that we must all fight together.”
  • He stated that the first is to commit to achieving sufficiently ambitious emission reduction targets to the point of limiting global warming no later than 1.5 degrees and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
  • He stressed that the second objective is to mitigate the potential damage associated with climate change while strengthening our containment measures, accelerating the phase-out of coal, and ensuring that there is a greater inflow of public and private capital towards climate-related initiatives.
  • The Prime Minister also highlighted the need to take decisive action to tackle global inequalities as the pandemic has helped bring at least 88 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.
  • He also pointed out the issues with China noting that “it is necessary to cooperate with China on climate issues, without renouncing to raise the issue of human rights.”

Cingolani stresses that the transition should not be at the expense of workers:

  • The Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani on the occasion of the digital talk “The ecological transition between desires and reality”, stated that the transition to net zero cannot be done at the expense of workers, and that policymakers must have the courage to do it “in a sustainable way not only from an environmental point of view but also from a social one.”;
  • He remarked the focusing on COP26 talks about monitoring the decarbonization of the most vulnerable and weakest countries, could become ecological colonialism;
  • He noted that vulnerability is a problem which has made the green battle much more as a significant effort is required to protect of those who have already suffered this year

Italy joins the rest of the G7 to end support for coal-fired power stations this year:

  • The world’s richest countries have pledged to end public support for coal-fired power stations this year ahead of COP26;
  • Limiting the rise in temperature to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would require “significant action by all countries and in particular the major emitting economies“.
  • Italy will exit coal-fired power generation by 2025;
  • In the same meeting, G7 countries agreed to “significantly accelerate” their efforts to move away from hydrocarbons for transport in the coming decade.

Pope is hoping to attend COP26 and meet Patriarch of Constantinople:

  • The Vatican has stated that the Pope is hoping to attend COP26 in November and coincide his visit with that of the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople;
  • The Vatican Press Office added that contact had also been made with Patriarch Bartholomew’s office and “they will want to synchronise the dates and try to be there together“;
  • The Pope also launched an initiative (Laudato Si Action Platform) last week to make Catholic institutions, ranging from families to universities to businesses, environmentally sustainable in seven years, saying a “predatory attitude” towards the planet must end.

Italy launches competition for ideas on circular economy:

  • The Embassy of Italy in Argentina, in collaboration with the Institute for Technology Transfer of the University of Buenos Aires, has launched an ideas competition to reward the most of Argentine university students and recent graduates on the development of the circular economy;
  • The project is part of the program of initiatives launched by the Italian diplomatic office in Argentina as early as October 2020 with a cycle of seminars dedicated to the themes of ecological transition, energy, renewables and innovation: ‘Path to COP26: dialogue with the private sector’, ‘Economy Circular and Cluster ‘,’ Business districts and networks’ and ‘Path to Youth4Climate: dialogue with young people’.
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