Here is the summary of the third day of the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow on November 3, 2021:
Decreasing emissions and increasing financing:
After more than 120 world leader speeches over the last two days, two themes stood out – the need for radical emission cuts in line with 1.5°C and a fair financial deal in line with old promises, allowing poorer nations to invest in the new green economy and cope with the fallout from the old fossil fuel one. On 1.5°C, countries now have eight days to decide if they want to commit to a tougher fitness regime. On finance, today’s headlines suggest it could be a watershed moment for understanding how finance can deliver that target, if major banks can fall in line and rich governments can rule out funding fossil fuels..
Working towards 1.5°C:
Late on Tuesday two statements landed worth noting. The first, from the 27-country strong High Ambition Coalition, urged countries without a 1.5°C target to develop one “well ahead of COP27” in 2022, double adaptation finance and end investment and operations of coal plants in line with 1.5°C. Biden, Macron and Merkel are among those who signed. It’s a statement of intent – albeit from a small group with no emerging economies – on what that final 1CP.26 deal needs to say.
The climate vulnerable speak:
Separately, the now 55-strong Climate Vulnerable Forum issued a manifesto demanding a “raising of ambition at every single COP, especially from the major pollution-emitting nations,” and urging this be part of a “Glasgow Emergency Pact” that commits new levels of climate finance, addresses loss & damage and delivers “robust” carbon markets. It’s an intriguing challenge for China, India and others to manage, coming from fellow G77 nations and clearly calling for a new set of climate plans..
Talks in the time of COVID:
India media reported some delegates are quarantining due to Covid on Tuesday. While those reports are unconfirmed, it underlines the unusual circumstances everyone at COP26 finds themselves in. Some have labelled it the “most exclusive COP ever” due to restrictions on civil society, although pressures may ease now the vast leader-delegations have gone. Last night, the UN apologised for tough rules, saying it was a “learning process” and encouraging visitors to “come prepared with appropriate gear.”
Lines of the day:
Progress in some areas:
Critical carbon market talks are continuing – countries accepted texts on Articles 6.2, 6.4 and 6.8 as the basis for discussion. Brazil is dropping red lines on carrying over old offsets, but other emerging economies are hanging tight. Talks on long-term finance appear stuck (for now) on technical issues, while critical transparency negotiations [more here] remain reliant on progress in other fora.
COP26 review so far:
*Pressers: Bangladesh (0900) – LDCs (1130) – CAN (1145) – UK Presidency (1230) *Check the Daily Programme for main Carney / finance day events *1500-1630: Global sports bodies to launch new set of climate targets (more here)
Mark Carney is the former Bank of England Governor, and one-time darling of the climate scene but who has largely fallen out of favour. But this will be his day, along with financial heavyweights like Blackrock’s Larry Fink and McKinsey & Company keen to show they are committed to a green transition. The challenge: Credibility. More than USD 130 trillion in assets under management is covered by a net-zero pledge – but there is little substance behind it.
Multiple initiatives will be highlighted today. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) is one – which brings together financial institutions committing to net zero across their investment portfolios. A new progress report is blunt – huge gaps in credibility exist, with members of the banking alliance, like JP Morgan, having the weakest targets. GFANZ itself does not require financial institutions to stop funding fossil fuels, undermining the credibility of climate initiatives for banks.
Carney’s other key drive is around Voluntary Carbon Markets – banks and commodity traders want to create markets in unregulated offsets, but solid foundations are required if they’re not to be used as giant carbon dodges. Watchers are concerned that these markets could become the climate version of subprime mortgages. Major protests are planned – indigenous peoples from the Arctic to Brazil will be outside the main entrance of COP26 at 9.30am to demand an end to the use of offsets.
Don’t mistake scale for impact:
A big assumption in Carney’s voluntary offsets taskforce is that over the rest of this decade, companies will buy a lot more expensive offsets, to create a market worth USD 100 billion. Price correlates to quality, so more expensive offsets are more likely to actually help the climate, as opposed to being just greenwashing. Analysis by Trove Research points out that very few companies have committed to high-integrity net-zero targets, so most will probably want to buy the cheapest offsets. The huge problem with these cheap offsets is that they likely don’t cut emissions.
On the opening day of COP, Antonio Guterres announced the establishment of a group of experts that would analyse net-zero commitments from non-state actors, including businesses. “There is a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net-zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics,” he said. It’s a commitment worth following, as is an impending call by the business groups for “corporate determined contributions.” The question is about accountability – who ensures that climate pledges are robust, and that they’ll be delivered? The UN, or the companies involved?
Money for South Africa:
The US, EU, UK, France and Germany have agreed to mobilise USD 8.5 billion (around R130 billion) for South Africa to accelerate the shift away from coal, invest in renewables and protect fossil fuel-reliant communities. Local climate and environmental justice groups cautiously welcomed the deal but said questions remained about the scope and conditions, and accountability by lenders, beneficiaries and the South African government. This kind of focused effort to support the transition in emerging countries could be something that comes up more frequently, but likely won’t work for all nations.
Energy Transition Mechanism:
The Asian Development Bank launches its much-reported-on “energy transition mechanism” this morning. The plan is to close coal-fired power plants in SE Asia, while also creating an investment product for responsible pension funds and the like. However, several dozen CSOs from across Asia asked the ADB to hold off on announcing and seeking support for the proposal until critical questions had been answered, including how it would actually cut emissions.
*Methane: 100+ countries, 50 percent of global methane emissions, at least 70 percent of global GDP *Steel, renewables, hydrogen, EVs: 40+ governments, 70 percent of GDP, EU, US, China & India *Forests: 100+ countries, £14 billion, end to deforestation by 2030, USD 1.5 billion to Congo basin *Japan: USD 10 billion climate finance over 5 years, USD 240 million for forests & new green innovation fund.
US criticizes China, Russia and Saudi Arabia:
“It was a mistake” for leaders of China, Russia and Saudi not to show up at COP, Biden told a presser late Tuesday. Fresh from backing an HAC text to nix coal, Biden heads home to face his climate nemesis Joe Manchin, who he needs to support his Build Back Better climate bill. A vote in the House is mooted for this week, after which it heads to the Senate. “We’ll get this done” Biden said, referring to the biggest investment in clean energy the US will have ever made.
Tokyo’s new Prime Minister Kishida, disappointed in his speech when he was mum on both his country’s responsibility to keep 1.5°C alive and end coal. His speech focused on labelling ammonia and hydrogen as “zero-emission thermal power.” Expect Kishida to get a frosty reception on his return home – the late USD 10 billion climate finance pledge, while positive, lacks clarity on whether the country will spend it on coal and gas projects abroad.
A new CCDH report shows that Facebook is among a “Toxic 10” of publishers pushing digital climate change disinformation.