We all have to reduce emissions if we want to preserve our planet and our economies for future generations. To meet the goals of the UN Paris Agreement, we need to do it faster than ever. In the countdown to COP26, now is the time to start thinking about raising the ambition of your climate strategy.
COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, and it will be a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. The UN brings together almost every country on earth for global climate meetings called COPs, which stands for 'Conference of the Parties'. This year will be the 26th annual summit, taking place in Glasgow.
Given the cancellation of last year's COP summit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be crucial for making-up for lost time and ushering in a green post-pandemic recovery. The event is also being called “the first corporate COP" because it is now widely understood that if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, the goal of the Paris Agreement, the responsibility for reducing emissions extends to the private sector too.
Hot topics being raised at COP26 by the UK presidency will include:
As at past COPs, governments will meet to discuss what rules and mechanisms are to be put in place to operationalise the Paris Agreement. At the same time, countries are expected to submit updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) before the end of 2021, which in most cases will outline enhanced levels of ambition to achieve emission reductions in their countries. This is likely to result in stronger national legislation that forces corporate organisations to reduce their emissions. For example, the UK government launched its Race to Zero initiative that asks businesses to make commitments to support a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030. With developments like this already on the horizon, it's likely that COP26 will be the catalyst for greater ambition from the private sector.
Article 6, a framework for governments and the private sector to measure and trade emission reductions, will likely be given a robust set of rules at COP26, opening the door to a fully global carbon market. This could boost the appetite for climate ambition globally and give corporate organisations that are already engaged in an ambitious climate strategy a competitive advantage.
The UK presidency is hoping to unlock green finance solutions at COP26. Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, has launched the industry-lead and UN-convened Net Zero Banking Alliance that may provide both investors and corporate organisations with a new rulebook to evaluate their sustainability performance. This will send a signal – not just to financial institutions, but to all organisations that receive private or public investment – that share prices, asset valuation, and the cost of capital will be affected if urgent climate action is not taken. You can read more about it here.
The activities planned for COP26 are expected to attract a wide range of stakeholders to the venue for both official negotiations as well as side events, creating both a conference and exhibition simultaneously. Within the Green Zone, organisations and businesses can have their own pavilions, exhibitions, or events to present their innovative action on climate. Private sector organisations will be able to use these innovations to inspire their own corporate climate strategies.
The organisations that pursue ambitious climate action will become leaders in changing the way we do business. These organisations recognise sustainability not just as a smart investment, but also a strategic differentiator that leads to superior financial performance and increases resilience to global events. No matter where you are on the climate journey before COP26, there are steps your organisation can take to boost the ambition of its climate strategy.
You can read more about South Pole's climate journey and the services we offer here.
Are you interested in raising the ambition of your organisation's climate action targets? Register for South Pole's "Countdown to COP26" webinar.
You will learn: