Ahead of COP26. What is it and what can you do in the transition to net zero emissions

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) will take place in 2021, and it will be a milestone point in the fight against climate change. COPs, which stand for ‘Conference of the Parties,’ brings practically every country on the planet together for global climate summits. The 26th annual summit will be held in Glasgow this year from October 31st to November 12th.

As last year’s COP summit was canceled due to the Covid-19 emergency, this year’s event is to be the most significant UN Climate Change Conference to take place since the landmark Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015. This year’s summit, in fact, marks the first deadline for the updated national contributions of the countries participating since the Paris Agreement. The COP26 also represents an important opportunity for governments to review their commitments and collectively strengthen their ambition.

The goal of this COP is to build on the momentum generated by diverse sectors of society and to achieve quick, substantial, and proportionate reductions in all greenhouse gas emissions in a fair transition encompassing all actors.  All of this must be accomplished while both conserving and recovering environment, as well as assisting vulnerable people and nations that are not prepared to deal with the effects of climate change. To maintain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, urgent action and efforts are needed. The report of the IPCC shows that we might have already irrevocably changed the planet, and many escalating extreme weather occurrences may be traced back to climate change, such as the flooding in China, India, Europe, and the Philippines, as well as record-breaking hot waves in the Middle East, Canada, and the Mediterranean. According to the September UNFCCC NDC Synthesis Report, we are on a road to 2.7°C global warming, and emissions will keep growing by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.

Governments will gather, as they have in previous COPs, to consider what regulations and mechanisms needs to be put in place to make the Paris Agreement operative. Moreover, countries are required to submit updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by the end of 2021, which will establish higher levels of ambition for achieving emission reduction targets in their respective countries. This is likely to lead to more stringent national legislation requiring businesses to decrease their emissions too. Since having decided to host COP26, the UK government stood one step ahead of the game and launched the Race to Zero campaign, which urges firms to commit to a 68% emission reduction by 2030. For this reason, COP26 might mark the beginning of a greater and more urgent involvement of the private sector, as well as continuing to emphasize and encourage maximum involvement by government and public sector actors.

The keypoints of COP26

It will be a chance to fully utilize the COPs’ mobilizing capacity to promote a whole-of-society approach to combating climate change and its harmful consequences. The new COP26 presidency team has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a significant difference in this broader involvement by:

  • Strengthening the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA), as a catalytic space within the UNFCCC.
  • Expanding engagement of non-State and subnational actors, reflected in the number of institutions engaged, their geographic diversity, their constituency diversity.
  • Greater focus on sector-specific decarbonization through alignment of goals, and collaboration between Parties and other actors.
  • Help guarantee that efforts in both the voluntary and compliance market complement and mutually support each other to meet the goals of Paris. Both Parties and non-state actors should strive to limit the proliferation of non-comparable markets and approaches.
  • Expanding focus on the role that the finance sector can and must play in support of the Paris goals.

COP26 marks also a critical moment for the international community to agree on key outstanding and pending issues related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  In particular with regards to Article 6, the framework for governments and the private sector to assess and trade emission reductions, it will almost certainly be given a strong set of rules, paving the way for a fully global carbon market. This might increase global demand for climate solutions and provide companies that have already committed to a bold climate strategy a consistent advantage if compared to those that are just now about to define their environmental commitment or will soon find themselves obliged to do so.

We accompany your business in the transition to net zero emissions

Those companies who take bold climate action will be at the forefront of altering the way we conduct business. To these businesses sustainability is more than simply a good investment. Disposing of a consistent and integrated climate strategy also means having a strategic differentiator that leads to better financial results and more adaptability to external shocks.

There are actions your organization can take to increase its sustainability strategy:

  • Measure your footprint by understanding carbon emissions, analyzing product related impacts and evaluating climate-based approaches and solutions.
  • Set your preferences and targets through the deep understanding of your climate ambitions and get competent advisory on how best to achieve your targets.
  • Reduce your footprint through renewable energy and renewable gas consumption, energy efficiency solutions and supply chain decarbonization.
  • Neutralize and compensate your residual emissions through carbon offsets and carbon removals.

Learn more about our climate solutions and services here  and feel free to contact our experts to get advisory on what you can do about your climate strategy ahead of COP26!

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