The relevance of COP26 [November 2021]

Ombudsman Services | Nov 09, 2021

The first two weeks of November over 20,000 people, including leaders from over 100 countries come together at the conference campus on the River Clyde in Glasgow for COP26. Conference Of the Parties (COP) is a summit organised under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to bring the 196 countries and the EU together to make decisions on how to implement the international treaty dedicated to tackling global warming and its effects.

COP26 was delivered in partnership with Italy, coming hot on the heels of the October G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome. The goals of COP26 are to:

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach through curtailing deforestation, investing in renewables, phasing out coal and speeding up the switch to electric vehicles.
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats by protecting and restoring ecosystems, building defences, warning systems, resilient infrastructure and agriculture.
  3. Mobilise finance to deliver on these goals, including at least $100bn per year promised by developed countries and unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
  4. Work together to deliver the action needed to tackle climate crisis and finalise the Paris Rulebook.

Outcomes have included:

  • Policy Dialogue around new approaches to research, development and innovation to help catalyse the needed transition to sustainable food systems
  • Commitments to the creation of relevant policy and change, educating society around the skills, values and attitudes needed to live sustainably and combat climate change, working with the private sector to meet its responsibilities for green and carbon-neutral economies
  • A just transition including support for developing countries and emerging economies to make the transition to a net zero and climate resilient future
  • Access to investment and renewable energy technologies to ensure that efficient, clean and sustainable power is the most affordable and reliable option for developing countries
  • Supporting the swift transition to higher efficiency equipment in order to achieve a clean and affordable energy transition through aligning product standards and policies.
  • A commitment to rapidly scale up clean power generation deployment and cease issuance of new permits for unabated coal-fired power generator projects and support the transition of industry
  • Collaboration between ‘Mission Innovation’ and ‘Breakthrough Energy’ in collaborating to identify opportunities for public and private sectors to engage in high impact global projects that will accelerate investment in clean energy technologies
  • Commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation and reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • The role of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in providing essential partnership in global efforts to manage the urgent transitions necessitated by climate change and the need for sustainability.
  • Investment in renewable energy generation and infrastructure across continents along with zero emission vehicles, introduction of green grids solar mini-grids and off-grid systems to help vulnerable communities.

The interactivity and connectivity of the energy and communications sectors has never been more critical. Achieving Net Zero will change how we access services and will necessitate us becoming more energy efficient through adoption of remote and smart appliances which will rely on not just 4G but also 5G. Our phones will be critical tools not only in interacting but in facilitating vehicle charging and other essential daily life tasks. As old communications technology is replaced, a commitment to recycling critical components is also a key responsibility of the industry.

The energy and communications sectors need to prepare for this new world by anticipating their customers’ needs and expectations of service. It has never been more important to build trust with consumers to give them the confidence to adapt and adopt new lifestyle choices. Equally, as outlined by COP26, the disparity between the haves and have-nots will widen if not intentionally addressed. Our commitment to ensuring that Net Zero can be achieved in a way that is accessible, fair and inclusive to all is fundamental.

Achieving Net Zero is going to take a global commitment, that starts with each individual. On a personal basis we could take steps such as: upping our recycling, using LED lightbulbs, smart meters and appliances, reducing the number of times we jump in the car or fly, buying green energy, shopping more sustainably (including reducing our meat intake), reducing the washing temperature of laundry (considering whether things ‘need’ washing after a single use and avoiding using the tumble drier!), selecting a more efficient heating system, electric of hybrid car.

So the key challenge of COP26 is to consider how we as individuals, society and industry can work together to adjust our attitudes and behaviours today, to ensure a connected, accountable, sustainable tomorrow.