• BDO on COP26

BDO COP26 Digest #2 - 01 November 2021

Welcome to day 2 of COP26.

The day started with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and other youth leaders from around the world signing a petition calling for climate action and telling COP26 leaders to ‘face up to the climate emergency.’ 1.1 million concerned citizens co-signed the appeal, which states that:

‘This is not a drill; it’s code red for the earth. Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated - a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.’

Activists’ demands do not deviate much in principle from the pre-COP discussions among European Union states and the G20, although the speed and depth of their suggested actions do.  Their five main asks of the Glasgow summit:

  • Keep the goal of 1.5°C alive via immediate and drastic annual emission reductions;
  • End all fossil fuel investments, subsidies and new projects immediately, and stop new exploration and extraction;
  • End creative carbon accounting by publishing total emissions for all consumption indices, supply chains, international aviation and shipping, and the burning of biomass;
  • Deliver the $100bn promised to the most vulnerable countries, with additional funds for climate disasters;
  • Enact climate policies that protect workers and the most vulnerable, and reduce all forms of inequality.

National statements on climate change will soon be made at COP26 by the various Heads of State and Government including the co-host, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Key points of made in statements thus far:

  • United Nations General Secretary Guterres opened proceedings with a passionate plea for strong, decisive action and a warning:

    “Enough of brutalizing biodiversity, killing ourselves with carbon, treating nature like a toilet, burning, and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”
  • British Prime Minister Johnson welcomed more than 120 world leaders to the historic climate talks in Glasgow with another stark warning:

    “It’s one minute to midnight, and we need to act now. If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

The Prime Minister also announced a major funding package to support the rollout of sustainable infrastructure and revolutionary green technology in Global South (developing) countries, helping to tackle climate change and boost economic growth

  • US President Biden told world leaders that his country would meet its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50-52 percent by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels) and said that the world must provide more help to developing nations to deal with climate change.  The US plans to spend USD 3 billion a year to help vulnerable and climate impact challenged nations
  • Brazil’s Environment Minister Leite said on Monday that the country would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, substantially raising the previous commitment to reduce emissions by 43 percent in that time period
  • Georgia’s Prime Minister Garibashvili said his country would reduce its GHG emissions by 50% against 1990 levels and has a national sustainable development plan fully aligned with targets enshrined in the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Poland’s Prime Minister Morawiecki stressed the need for a just and appropriate share in the international climate efforts as the low carbon transformation cannot take place at the expense of the people who expect a socially and economically fair transition
  • India’s Prime Minister Modi set a net zero target for 2070 and called for Global North (developed) countries to invest USD 1 trillion in mitigating climate impacts, especially in the Global South (developing countries).
  • Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison set a Net Zero emissions target by 2050 and will invest 2 billion AUD$ supporting countries in the Asia Pacific region to adapt to climate change impacts

The World Leaders Summit will continue tomorrow with further national statements and leader events on action related to forest/land use and accelerating clean technology, innovation and development.

Other COP26 meeting and news highlights:

Women and Gender > The role of National Gender and Climate Change Focal Points (NGCCFP) workshop

  • Climate change impacts on women and men can often differ, due to historical and current gender inequalities and multidimensional factors. These are often more  pronounced in Global South (developing) countries and for indigenous peoples
  • Raising awareness and tracking progress on gender-responsive climate plans and communication at national, regional and international level
  • Mark Carney, chair of the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA), which includes BDO, said in an interview with Bloomberg that he’s planning to use the COP26 summit to present a scorecard showing how well members of the financial community are meeting goals enshrined in the net-zero emissions alliance. Carney said the NZFSPA will “relentlessly, ruthlessly” focus on ensuring the financial industry achieves its stated goal. Carney will be among key speakers on Nov. 3, when COP26 turns its attention the financial industry.

Comment

There is genuine concern among political leaders about existing and future climate change impacts across our globe, with most presenters stressing the scientific, political, economic and moral case for hard and fast action. The positive role that business can (and must) play in this transition was only highlighted in a few speeches so far.  This provides the perfect opportunity for the forthcoming industry presentations to really hit home the point that businesses are part of the solution to solving the global climate challenge.

As always, the devil will be in the detailed net zero emission and investment commitments and these will not be revealed for a few days yet. Mark Carney’s COP26 address on Wednesday will be particularly interesting to BDO as this will outline the goals and ambitions of the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance, of which we are proud members. It will be exciting to hear what is planned within the alliance and kickstart our own journey to measure, manage and report on our net zero commitment.