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COP26 Roadmap Briefing

COP26 Roadmap Briefing

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 The below update is the combined effort of both the London and Brussels public policy offices.

UK Update:

COP26 President Alok Sharma delivers written statement on governance of Presidential role:

  • On the 18 March, COP26 President delivered a written statement on the governance, structure and parliamentary accountability of the Presidential role. The statement clarifies a number of aspects of how the role will operate;
  • In the statement Sharma reiterated the Government’s four objectives for the Summit:
  • To ask countries to commit to net zero by mid-century;
  • To urgently protect and help adapt communities and natural habitats from the destructive effects of climate change;
  • To increase funding to support these aims, making good on the $100bn annual climate finance goal affirmed through the Paris Agreement;
  • To close off the outstanding elements of the Paris Rulebook
  • It has also been confirmed that there will be “a range of opportunities available for members and their constituents including hosting events, creative installations and exhibitions within UK Government managed spaces”. There will also be a Devolved Administrations Group to ensure effective engagement and collaboration;
  • Sharma also confirmed that in Parliament, there will be regular oral questions and that there will be full select committee scrutiny of the role;
  • Lord Goldsmith, Minister for Pacific and the Environment, will be the COP26 spokesperson in the House of Lords and Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, will address COP26 questions in the House of Commons and has the role of the UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency. Katherine Fletcher MP has been appointed as Sharma’s Parliamentary Private Secretary;
  • The Written Statement is an attempt by the Government to respond to the criticism that has been levelled in recent weeks, that the UK is unprepared for the summit later this year. The House of Commons Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committee published a report on “Net zero and UN climate summit: Scrutiny of Preparations for COP26”. The report states that the Government’s ambitions for the COP26 climate summit need to be clearer. The Committee recommended that the Government set out a clear list of COP26 ambitions accompanied by specific measures of success.

UK Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy released:

  • Last week BEIS released the UK’s Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy. The document outlines how the Government plans to decarbonise the full range of UK industry;
  • In the Strategy paper, the Government states that its expectation is that emissions will need to reduce by at least two-thirds by 2035 and by at least 90% by 2050;
  • The document sets out how the Government indents to support customers and consumers to choose low carbon options. Within it the Government states the expectation of 20 terawatt hours of the UK industry’s energy supply switching from fossil fuel sources to low carbon alternatives by 2030;
  • The document also pledges to:
  • Require that at least 3 million tons of CO2 is captured within industry per year by 2030;
  • Commit to reduce industrial emissions by two-thirds by 2035, and by at least 90% by 2050, compared to 2018 levels;
  • Commit to establish the right policy framework to ensure uptake of fuel switching in industry from fossil fuels to low carbon alternatives such as hydrogen, electricity or biomass;
  • Establish a targeted approach to mitigate against carbon leakage that meets the government’s domestic and global climate goals, while keeping businesses competitive;
  • To work with the steel industry to see if it is possible for ore-based steelmaking to reach near-zero emissions by 2035;
  • Develop proposals for new product standards, enabling manufacturers to clearly distinguish their products from high carbon products;
  • Use the government’s Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce, named ‘Project Speed’, to ensure the land planning regime is fit for building low carbon infrastructure.

Other news:

  • Writing in the Guardian, COP26 President Alok Sharma set out the UK’s aims as host for the first time. He wrote: “I want to put the world on a path to reach net zero by the middle of the century, which is essential to keeping 1.5C within reach….Over this year we want to see countries making ambitious commitments on ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles”;
  • In the Government’s Integrated Review of foreign and security policy, released last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the Government’s “number one international priority” is tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. The document details plans to scale up low-carbon technology sectors domestically and increasing international collaboration in the sector;
  • It has been announced that nine Parliamentary Committees have agreed ‘Committee on COP26’ scrutiny arrangements with COP President Alok Sharma MP. The nine Parliamentary Committees will take turns to lead oral evidence sessions of the ‘Committee on COP26’ and hear from the UK Government on how it is working to support COP26;
  • The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee published it’s “Achieving Net Zero Report last week. The Committee found that the Government lacks a “coordinated plan with clear milestones” for hitting decarbonisation targets. It says that departments across Government are not yet sufficiently considering the impact on net zero when taking forward projects and programmes;
  • A coalition of environmental organisations have urged the Government to set a minimum target for solar energy generation to match the ambition of offshore wind. Solar Energy UK is calling for a 40GW by 2030 target to be established;
  • Analysis from The Times suggests that the UK is halfway to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. The newspaper suggests that greenhouse gases have fallen by 51% against the government’s baseline for measuring progress towards net zero;

EU Update:

Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, met the leaders of the European Commission and participated in the weekly meeting of the college of commissioners last week:

  • John Kerry met with the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the College of Commissioners, and Vice President Josep Borrell, and he confirmed the new US administration’s policy shift away from Donald Trump’s roll back of environmental protections, stating that the EU and Washington need to align to tackle climate change;
  • John Kerry emphasised that the next decade must be a decade of action, noting that meeting Paris commitments would not be enough to avoid drastic global warming;
  • President Ursula von der Leyen stated that there is a ‘lot of work to do on the climate and the EU cannot do it alone’, noting that ‘it’s wonderful to know that we have a friend again in the White House.’;
  • Executive Vice-President Timmermans emphasised the need for the US and the EU to work together ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow in November, stressing that they could ‘move mountains’ and drive the shift to a world that is liveable in and works within planetary boundaries;
  • Nevertheless, Kerry warned the EU that a carbon border tax adjustment should be a “last resort’ and urged the EU to wait until after the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow to move forward, as it would have serious implications for economies, relationships, and trade.

President von der Leyen pointed out the benefits for the European economy of the clean energy transition at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue:

  • President von der Leyen stated that [the EU] wants to reconcile the way we produce and do business with the health of our planet.’;
  • President von der Leyen highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic makes caring for the planet all the more relevant, stressing that the European Green Deal is as important today as it has been before COVID-19;
  • The President insisted that the Green Deal and the economic recovery must go hand in hand and noted that the European Green Deal is the EU’s strategy for sustainable growth and its roadmap out of the crisis;
  • Von de Leyen mentioned that NextGenerationEU will invest in clean hydrogen as never before as can power many things with almost zero emissions;
  • President von der Leyen noted that in the Summer, the EU will revise our entire climate and energy legislation to make it ‘fit for 55′, enhance the EU Emissions Trading System, and come forward with proposals to boost renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.
  • The President emphasised that the EU is ready to lead and that a shared commitment to a net-zero emissions pathway by 2050, will make climate neutrality a new global benchmark.

EU Vice-President Timmermans urged negotiators to finish the EU’s landmark climate law in time for an international summit next month:

  • EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans called negotiators to finalise the law by a climate leaders’ summit organised by the US on April 22;
  • EU Vice-President Timmermans stated hitting that deadline ‘is extremely important if Europe wants to maintain its leadership role and wants to invite the rest of the world to follow.’;
  • The proposals will include tougher EU car CO2 standards, a revamp of the bloc’s carbon market and new renewable energy goals – all with the aim of meeting a new 2030 emissions target;
  • Negotiations have edged towards agreeing parts of the law – including a budget-like mechanism to monitor future emissions. But negotiations have stalled on the 2030 target, as the Commission and EU member states want to slash net emissions at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels while the European Parliament wants a 60% cut;
  • EU officials said two further negotiation rounds are likely needed to finish the law, with the next scheduled for March 26;

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans met online with Mr. Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change to discuss the next steps ahead of the crucial climate COP in Glasgow this year and on China’s 14th Five Year Plan, following its recent adoption:

  • Executive Vice-President Timmermans indicated that the EU looks forward to seeing China’s specific climate-related plans in the coming months to understand better the relevant details;
  • Timmermans reiterated the EU’s support for a global phase-out of overseas coal investment and expressed hope that China could support the same objective;
  • Executive Vice-President Timmermans also welcomed the launch of China’s national Emissions Trading System as an important tool to reduce GHG emissions in key sectors of the economy, and shared information about the upcoming EU legislative proposals to deliver on the at least 55% GHG emissions reduction target due in June 2021;
  • Finally, the Executive Vice-President stressed that strong leadership was required for successful meetings at COP26 to help resolve the climate and biodiversity crises.


Italy has been selected to host an event in Rome ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September:

  • The pre-summit gathering in Rome will take place from 19-21 July in a ‘hybrid’ format and will be led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Italy’s prime Minister Mario Draghi.
  • Prime Minister Mario Draghi stated that Italy will work with its partners to foster ‘better agriculture, sustainable value chains and healthy lifestyles’, noting that he ‘expects everyone to join us in a global effort to protect the environment.’
  • UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres stated that this Pre-Summit in Italy will be a ‘key moment for mobilising the bold commitments we need to build sustainable food systems that work for people, the planet, and prosperity.’
  • The Rome gathering will bring together the efforts and contributions of a global engagement process to shape ambitions to transform food systems.
  • The meeting will offer “the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches and best practices from around the world, to launch a set of fresh commitments through new joint action, efforts to obtain new funding and create new partnerships.
  • Global leaders are expected to launch bold new action, solutions, partnerships, and strategies to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic at the Rome gathering.

The Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani pushed in the videoconference of the EU environment ministers for the finalisation of the EU climate law before the summit organized by President Biden in April:

  • The climate law setting the target for reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030 is in the negotiation phase between the EU institutions.
  • All the protagonists involved, from the European Parliament to the Commission to the Portuguese EU presidency, are aiming for an agreement by 22 April, when Joe Biden convened the summit of climate leaders.
  • In the meeting, Cingolani stated that Italy, as a partner of the United Kingdom for COP26, is ready to start a constructive dialogue to reach a fair and balanced agreement for all as quickly as possible’ while also recalling the ‘importance of maintaining the spirit of the general approach of balanced and ambitious agreement by the Council.’

The Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, and the Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, QU Dongyu, had a meeting last week to discuss areas of interest for cooperation between FAO and Italy, including the forthcoming Italian Presidency of COP26:

  • The meeting focused on the themes “of science and technology for an exchange of experiences between FAO and Italy and the potential of renewable energy, solar energy, green hydrogen, the improvement of waste management and advanced global monitoring for forecasting and prevention in order to protect fragile soils and critical infrastructures “.
  • QU Dongyu and Cingolani “underlined the importance of increasing the autonomy of small farmers through a better use of renewable energy, better waste management and biomass enhancement”.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio stated at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2021 that Italy is ready to make its contribution to push an energy transition:

  • Di Maio emphasised that in light of pre-CoP26, Italy feels a special responsibility and opportunity on maintaining the momentum of global coordination efforts towards a low-carbon economy and an effective green transition.
  • The minister stressed that there are essential factors to push renewable energies: cooperation in scientific and technological research, industrial alliances, good energy governance, as well as common standards and profitability.
  • Di Maio noted that ‘there is no better coalition than the transatlantic community to make the most of all these drivers.’
  • The Foreign Minister highlighted the role that Italy plays in energy, highlighting its world-leading companies in the energy sector, its vast research network and its good relationships with many partners in the Mena region, in the Western Balkans, in Africa, and other areas.

Italian Ambassador in Moscow Pasquale Terracciano noted in an interview with Sputnik that Italy backs the proposed EU levy on imported carbon-intensive products, but will facilitate a dialogue with Moscow on the issue to forestall the initiative becoming a bone of contention between the bloc and Russia:

  • Ambassador Terracciano highlighted that Italy, as a host of pre-COP26 meeting in Milan, is in favour of constructive and inclusive approaches on environmental topics vis-à-vis all countries, and it will promote dialogue on this issue between the competent European Authorities and their Russian counterparts.
  • The Ambassador stressed that Italy this year, with its COP26 and G20 presidencies, will focus on environment protection, fight against climate change and energy transition, noting that climate objectives should be achieved in a way that does not hamper the EU’s competitiveness at the global level.
  • Terracciano insisted that the tax is fully WTO-consistent or “Country Neutral” and would target only energy-intensive products, while excluding those goods that are in short supply in the EU.
  • The European Unionis planning to adopt the so-called Carbon Border Adjustment mechanism to impose a tax on imported products from countries that do not follow the same environmental regulations as its member states, thus producing cheaper products at higher CO2 emissions.

British Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris, stressed that the respective UK and Italian presidencies of COP26 offer both countries an unprecedented opportunity, to lead the international community at a crucial moment for reconstruction from the devastating effects of the pandemic:

  • Ambassador Morris stated that the future must be built in the name of the opportunities offered by the fight against climate change in the sense of a more sustainable economic recovery and coexistence with the planet in greater harmony than in the past.
  • The Ambassador stressed that her team, in support of COP26, the team has developed numerous meetings under the umbrella of the #All4Climate campaign, promoted together with pre-COP Milan and the Italian Ministry of the Environment.
  • The Ambassador also noted that this year, the British Embassy will support the energy-saving campaign of Radio2’s Caterpillar program, the famous M’illumino di Meno

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