• BDO on COP26

BDO COP26 Digest #8 - 09 November 2021

9 November is Gender, Science and Innovation Day at COP26. 

Gender issues

Leaders and campaigners have warned that the climate crisis cannot be resolved without the empowerment of women. Women and girls around the world suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate breakdown, as they are (on average) poorer, less educated and more likely to be dependent on subsistence farming.

A UN report found that 80% of those displaced by the climate emergency are women. The focus on gender equality saw indigenous women and politicians including Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, demand increased investment.

“We know from our efforts to tackle climate change that it is more effective when we put women and girls at the heart of those efforts.”

Per Fridh, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, told COP26: “Women are not the polluters of this world, yet they carry the consequences of climate change on their shoulders. Without a gender perspective, we miss out on invaluable knowledge needed for a sustainable green transition. A feminist approach is simply the only smart thing to do.”

There has been new momentum from around the world to put gender at the forefront of climate action, as countries and stakeholders set out their gender and climate commitments. For example:

  • Germany announced a new Gender Strategy under its International Climate Initiative (IKI) which will promote gender-transformative approaches in international climate and biodiversity cooperation.
  • The UK set out how £165 million in funding will address the dual challenges of gender inequality and climate change.
  • Canada pledged to ensure that 80% of its $5.3 billion climate investments over the next five years target gender equality outcomes. 
  • Bolivia committed to promote the leadership of women and girls, especially indigenous, Afro-Bolivian and rural women, through their involvement in sustainable development projects.  The country will also reflect gender data in its Nationally Determined Contributions and will work with UN Women to promote the use of gender breakdowns in official national statistics on environment and climate change.
  • The USA will promote gender equity and equality in responding to climate change as a priority of its National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality; investing at least $14 million of the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund in gender-responsive climate programming.  A further $20 million will be invested in initiatives to increase women’s economic opportunities in the clean energy sector, to strengthen action on gender-based violence and the environment, to address barriers to women’s land rights and support women farmers in East Africa to adapt to climate impacts.

Science and Innovation issues

Initiatives launched today will enhance international cooperation between governments, academics, businesses and civil society and ensure that science and innovation deliver for all, to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement:

  • 47 countries have committed to building health systems which are able to withstand the impacts of climate change and which are low carbon and sustainable. This includes 42 countries (representing over a third of global health care emissions) that have committed to develop a sustainable, low-carbon health system. 12 of these 42 countries have set a deadline of 2050 or earlier, by which their health systems will reach net zero.

UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, underlined the critical role of science and innovation in enabling every country to access the tools needed to immediately reduce emissions in line with Paris temperature targets, and to adapt to the effects of climate change that we are already seeing. These initiatives include:

  • New commitments to accelerate innovation and low carbon transitions in industry and cities
  • New global Adaptation Research Alliance, to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities on the frontline of climate change
  • Independent experts to track progress against the Breakthrough Agenda announced by world leaders on 2 November, advising on action and collaboration
  • The global scientific research community will produce an annual climate risk assessment to ensure that the dangers are fully understood by world leaders

Scientists warn on 1.5°C target

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global warming far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement, despite a flurry of carbon-cutting pledges from governments at COP26.

Temperature rises will top 2.4°C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out, according to research published today.

That would far exceed the 2°C upper limit the Paris accord said the world needed to stay ‘well below’ and the much safer 1.5°C limit aimed for at the COP26 talks.

At this level, widespread extreme weather – sea-level rises, drought, floods, heatwaves and fiercer storms – will cause devastation across the globe.



Source: Climate Action Tracker, Warming Projections Global Update - November 2021

Other COP26 news:

  • African nations want to start open discussions at COP26 about channelling $700bn every year from 2025 to help them deal with the climate crisis.
  • Global engineering group Arup has announced that it will not be taking on any new energy commissions involving the extraction, refinement, or transportation of hydrocarbon-based fuels. The company urged competitors to follow its lead. 
  • At the Industry Action Event Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), stated that: “Engineers are changing the way we make stuff but it will be accelerated by the accountants holding us all accountable whether we go fast enough towards Net Zero….it’s time for business to Reduce Remove and Report (on carbon emissions) because full transparency is going to be the next big thing…business must think in 3 sustainable development dimensions: climate action, nature action and inequality action.”

German perspectives

  • State Secretary for the Environment Jochen Flasbarth announced that Germany is joining the Beyond Coal & Gas Alliance, whose goal is to stop the financing ALL fossil energies, since to achieve the climate goals, not a single fossil fuel power plant should be built worldwide.
  • CEO of German chemical company Covestro, Dr Markus Steilemann, outlined three challenges and solutions that the global chemical industry faces on the road to a circular economy and towards net zero:
    1. Innovation and technology investment approaches are critical to lower the 5-7% of emissions coming from the chemical sector. “As a chemical company we are all about molecules, so it’s our job to make them go circular not linear.”
    2. There is a great need for transformation through aggressive collaboration, in creating markets for power impact products, in providing secure investment environments and in educating the consumer
    3. Circular economy and net zero masterplans are needed that go beyond single solutions and instead focus on a variety of applications with broad and open access to solutions and technologies.