COP26’s race to zero begins
EIC highlights the key points made in COP26 President Alok Sharma’s speech, which symbolised the beginning of the organisations ‘Race to Zero’ campaign, and how business leaders can take a poll position despite the starting gun having already been fired.
Mapping the future
News that the UK will postpone its hosting of the UN climate change conference (COP26) was not unexpected, given the necessity for social distancing that COVID-19 has imposed, however it did raise concerns over the UK’s determination to enact a green recovery post-lockdown.
While the UK track record may, in part, justify some of these concerns, individual safety is not the only benefit of such a delay to talks, for one the nations taking part will need a clear idea of the state of their respective economies once lockdown ends before committing to new policy.
And from a psychological perspective it might be argued that due to the all-consuming nature of the pandemic when it comes to public and government attention, the conference would not receive the attention necessary if it went ahead this year.
How far we’ve come
Despite the conference now being slated for Q4 2021 (-12 November), Alok Sharma gave a speech last Friday that reasserted the UK’s ambitions and responsibilities with regards to the 2050 net zero target and how the race to zero was already hastening its completion.
The UK, in collaboration with Chile and the U.N., are already leaders of the Climate Ambition Alliance – representing over half of global GDP – however Sharma insisted in his speech that “…we must go further”.
Sharma outlined some of the UK’s major achievements in reducing carbon emissions in the last thirty years:
- Since 1990 the UK economy has grown by 75% while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by 43%
- In the same time, the UK has two offshore wind turbines able to power 2,000 homes, as of 2020 the UK is leading nation for offshore wind capacity
- Globally, the cost of solar and wind power have dropped by 85% and 49% respectively
- Over two thirds of the worlds nations can now generate renewable energy cheaper than coal
While details of the path forward remain scant – not surprising given the reasons for postponement – Sharma made it clear that liberating capital to fund green initiatives and widespread support for electric vehicles would be crucial to the UNFCCC’s success.
Approximately 1,000 business leaders, representing revenue totalling in excess £3.5tn have committed to the scheme including British motor giant Rolls Royce. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC, around 75% of these businesses have already developed strategies and targets aligned with the 2050 target.
Dr. Alison Doig, international lead at the ECIU (Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit) recently commented on the danger of complacency in the opening stages of such a race.
“This is not, however, about pushing climate action to some date in the future; no entity can reach net-zero in 2050 without starting now… participants will have to present delivery plans, including setting interim targets for the next decade, by the time COP26 opens in Glasgow next year.”
Clean energy was the first element of the British economy that Sharma cited when referring to the need for green growth after lockdown, making it a pressing issue for business leaders looking to get a head start on net zero. EIC provides comprehensive support and advice to businesses in the procurement, management and generation of alternative energy sources. Each service forms an element of the robust energy management service that EIC offers.
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