By Asitha Jayawardena
Note: On 24 March 2021, the Sustain blog celebrated one year, bringing 56 posts on climate change, coronavirus and sustainability. Today, it brings the interview of Matt Toombs, Director of Partnerships and Engagement in the COP26 unit of the UK Cabinet Office, published in Capgemini Research Institute.
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1–12 November 2021.
Matt Toombs, Director of Partnerships and Engagement in the COP26 unit of the UK Cabinet Office, is responsible for driving international collaboration around the five focus areas of the UK’s presidency of the COP26 summit, namely clean energy, adaptation and resilience, clean transport, finance and nature-based solutions. He is also responsible for driving engagement with a range of non-government stakeholders, including business and civil society.
We should look at these areas to understand the UK government’s plans and priorities for the COP26 summit, which will pace the change on climate action:
- Background on the COP process
- The goals of the COP26 summit
- The goals of the UK’s presidency of the COP26 summit
- The five focus areas for the UK’s presidency of the COP26
- Impact of Covid-19 around climate action
Background on the COP process
A COP process started in 1995, having a link to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
Since then, COP meets annually and the COP21 is the most important meeting in 2015 in Paris Agreement. All countries came together to ensure that the rise of average global temperature to 2C and, if possible, below 1.5C. To implementation and delivery the goals, the meeting established a critical part called nationally determined contributions and these will be updated with a greater level of accuracy every five years.
The goals of the COP26 summit
In COP26, the countries will update nationally determined contributions as it is the first 5 years since 2015. With the impact of climate change is now seen widely, COP26 will strive to accelerate the net-zero targets around the world while reinforcing international action on mitigation, adaptation, resilience and finance.
The goals of the UK’s presidency of the COP26 summit
As Alok Sharma, the COP president-designate, says, we strive to build a unite against climate change, build a consensus, and come up with an agreement with four key goals:
- To deliver a step-change in mitigation so that the level of 1.5C is achievable
- To strengthen adaptation and resilience, building on initiatives such as the Race to Resilience and the Adaptation Action Coalition
- To get the finance flowing
- To enhance international collaboration, such as around five key themes, namely clean energy, adaptation and resilience, clean transport, finance and nature-based solutions.
This COP would be most inclusive, bringing the full set of actors and voices to the process, including business, investors, governments, civil society, and academia.
The five focus areas for the UK’s presidency of the COP26
The purpose of five focus areas for the UK’s presidency of the COP26 is to bring together governments, business and civil society to accelerate the transitions in these five areas, namely clean energy, adaptation and resilience, clean transport, finance and nature-based solutions.
Clean energy: We have launched an Energy Transition Council that brings global energy leadership to accelerate the transition from coal to clean power. This is complementary to the Powering Past Coal Alliance, an international coalition of governments, businesses and civil society. Clean energy is a great investment opportunity to all countries and it will offer real jobs as well as a growth opportunity.
Adaptation and resilience: In seeing the impacts of climate change on communities worldwide, we are looking at improving the climate-related extreme weather, increasing the availability, efficiency, and accessibility of finance for adaptation and resilience, and working in these areas with the public and the private sector.
Clean transport: The challenge is to double the transition to zero-emission vehicles. We also need to set a trajectory of zero-emission vehicles to 15% of global light-vehicle sales by 2025 and the current share is only 5%. We must work with governments, cities, manufacturers, and fleet owners to do it.
Finance: With climate integrated into every financial decision, we need to improve the quantity and quality of the public finance related to net-zero transition. To meet the Paris Agreement goals, we need USD six trillion infrastructure investment annually until 2030 with USD four trillion invested in developing countries. Public finance is not enough so the private version should come into play.
Nature-based solutions: Our effort is to tackle the twin challenges of biodiversity and climate. For this, we will work with national governments as well as indigenous peoples, farmers, scientists, conservationists, and business. We will use the convening power of our presidency to create domestic and international spheres to protect and restore these ecosystems.
Impact of Covid-19 around climate action
Despite the pandemic, the momentum of climate action has grown and this is the opportunity to build a more sustainable, inclusive economy and society. We must maintain the momentum throughout 2021 and beyond.
Discussion with Matt Toombs, UK Cabinet Office, COP Unit https://www.capgemini.com/research/conversations-for-tomorrow/edition-1/discussion-with-matt-toombs/
Uniting the world to tackle climate change