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Good cop or bad cop - what does a successful COP26 outcome look like?

29 October 2021

Fire, flood, famine - when it comes to climate the stakes are high. But how much rides on COP26 itself?

It’s not just COP - the events preceding it are crucial

Proceedings in Glasgow begin this weekend with a two-day World Leaders Summit where heads of state are expected to deliver concrete actions and credible plans aimed at achieving coordinated action to tackle climate change. A strong unified show of leadership and commitment from world leaders to close the emissions gap this decade, mobilise the finance required to deliver the net zero transition and support those on the front lines to adapt to the impacts of climate change will help to create the right dynamics to achieve the COP’s goals.

“The foundations for success will be laid before delegates arrive at COP26. While we have seen a raft of new NDCs (national climate targets), it’s crucial the G20 sets a unified and ambitious tone (committing to raising their 2030 ambition, and Net Zero by 2050, and action on coal) and for developed countries to make good on their promise to raise $100bn a year in climate finance.”

Kiran Sura, sustainability and climate change adviser at PwC

What we need COP26 to deliver: three key goals….

  1. A clear plan for how the emissions gap will be closed in the early 2020s through the acceleration of the NDC enhancement cycle and the setting of transformational sectoral targets that signal irreversible market shifts.
  2. On climate finance, the delivery of the $100bn in climate finance, a constructive start to negotiations on long-term climate finance targets (with a floor of $100bn), and the mobilisation of private finance at scale through multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, businesses and investors. The science has confirmed that the impacts of climate change we have already locked in are worse than forecast, and will increase in frequency and intensity without urgent action. The process needs to put adaptation on a more equal footing to mitigation by ensuring half of all finance raise is directed towards helping populations and communities deal with the impacts of climate change and advancing negotiations on the global adaptation goal.
  3. Last and by no means least, the finalisation of outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement Rulebook. Success would entail leaving Glasgow having mandated for five year common timeframes for NDCs, an enhanced transparency framework that ensures accountability whilst also providing flexibility for developing countries; and an international carbon market that preserves the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement.

The first COP where business is taking a lead role

This is the first COP where business action is receiving a significant profile, with a real groundswell of action under the Race to Zero, Race to Resilience and GFANZ campaigns. Business will also be pushing to see progress on the establishment of carbon markets and signals on how sectors are transforming. We can expect more businesses to announce Net Zero commitments; analysis and reports to support on issues from climate reporting and investment to climate technology, and potentially new products and innovations launched that support the transition.

High stakes. High rewards. COP26 is the first major meeting on the climate emergency since 2019. Over the last twelve months, we have seen a groundswell of action on climate from governments and non-state actors such as businesses, investors, cities and civil society. Now is the time to galvanise this momentum and provide a response that is commensurate with the climate emergency we are facing. Through coordination, collaboration and commitment it is possible to keep 1.5°C alive and deliver a resilient, sustainable, net zero world.

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Emma Cox

Emma Cox

Global Climate Leader, PwC United Kingdom

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