As COP26 drew to a close last week, I found it surprisingly hard to find a concise summary of a seemingly endless fortnight of discussions and campaigns. So, this morning I sat down and did some digging to find out what we've been left with. Fair to say, it's a mixed bag.
The Glasgow Climate Pact asks countries to come back by 2022 with a clear plan to cut their emissions to reach the (now) ambitious goal of only a 1.5C temperature rise by 2030 - current projections show us to be on track for a 2.4C rise by 2030. It means the target initially set in Paris, 2015 is still alive, albeit only just. The pledge relies on countries committing to their promises and making vast swathes of changes across their economies. Whether these countries - especially some of the larger polluters like India and China - will be able to do this, remains to be seen.
One other thing which shouldn't be overlooked is that it's done a lot to bring us closer together. Whether it's a micro-economic level in connecting startups and SMEs (like Easthouse 😀) or a macro-economic level with countries and governments, it's clear the impacts have been felt. It's also put Glasgow (home to our development team) on the world stage as a major hub for sustainable development, with the city poised to ask for £30Bn in investment to fuel its Greenprint for Investment portfolio.
The hesitation to find an agreement on how to transition away from carbon intensive energy generation. Perhaps unsurprising but this proved a big stumbling block for many countries. What started out as an intent to "Phase out" coal, finished with countries signing an agreement to "Phase down" coal over the next 10-40 years. This last minute change was driven reluctance from some of the worlds biggest coal exporters, India, Australia and China, who are clearly still prioritising economic growth over world recovery.
It's not all bad. This is the first time fossil fuels have been included in a UN Climate Agreement and there are positives to be drawn from the fact that an agreement was found and signed. That being said, there are many who still say it's no where near enough.
The delay on climate finance. First off, I suspect many of you will be wondering "What is climate finance?" Climate finance is finance that is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases through public, private or alternative sources of funding. It's relevant because in 2009 wealthy nations pledged to donate up to $100Bn by 2020 to support developing nations with their adaptation programmes - a milestone which the UK has now conceded will only become reality by 2023. This a big target to miss and it's disappointing as it's so badly needed by the developing countries who don't have the funds to transition to a cleaner economy.
In summary, progress has been made but it's also left many questioning what the more immediate steps forward are. I must admit, throughout my research I failed to find much about the short term strategy aside from awaiting the plans pledged by all the countries in 2022. This still feels like we're forgoing precious time which, we really don't have.
Like so many others, I feel a fear starting to creep in that we're just leaving this too late. I take solace though in doing my bit in my work and personal life. Easthouse continues to support so many businesses doing amazing things in the cleantech space - and I'm immensely proud of this.
Onwards and upwards.