Nov 11, 2021 | marketing

#COP26 | Lasting Impact or Lacking Substance?

All eyes have been on Glasgow for the last two weeks. #COP26 has been viewed by many as our last chance to make a real impact in the fight against Climate Change.

With 30,000 attendees across 12 days, the most important event of our time brought together world leaders, industry heads, policy makers, activists and scientists to discuss one massive topic – our planet’s future.

Objectives for the conference lay in four key areas:

  1. Securing global Net Zero by mid-century and keeping the planet’s warming within the 1.5c target
  2. Adapting to protect communities & natural habitats, restoring eco-systems and resilient infrastructure
  3. Mobilising finance, aiming for at least $100bn climate finance per year moving forward
  4. Working together to deliver, ensuring the world players finalise the Paris Rulebook, and set climate targets collectively to address world challenges.

Here at SustainIQ, we marked the start of COP26, calling on our world leaders to push for action and not just drive empty rhetoric.

With the conference now coming to a close, we should reflect on what’s been delivered – will the impact of #COP26 be lasting, or has it lacked substance and just added more hot air to our already warming atmosphere?

With large UK businesses now being required to publish net-zero plans by 2024 and sanctions being introduced through a new Sustainability Disclosure Regulation (SDR), the UK government seems to be intervening to accelerate action. Moreover, commitments to phase out coal use and reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 are welcomed as key parts of the solution to lower global emissions.

As we stated though – we called for action, not words. Commitments are one thing, but delivering on them is another. The media paints a picture that suggests true impact is lacking, and raises concern for the future, despite the ambitious promises that have been presented.

Throughout the fortnight, world leaders were accused of sleeping at events, a lack of commitment from larger economies in supporting developing countries was highlighted, and the concern that ‘pledges’ may prove empty has been echoed repeatedly.

It’s not all doom and gloom however, and commitments from COP26, if actioned effectively, may truly drive change in our economies that is desperately needed. The key goal and pain point that really exists is around climate finance and bringing the world together to deliver on systemic change.

There is cause for despondence however in the fact that, before the conference is even over, developed countries are failing to deliver, with no commitment for $100bn in climate finance for lesser countries, nor any consideration to act on that commitment. Fractions are forming in relations, which is absolutely not what we need in light of the crisis presented. This is a human crisis and humanity needs to stand together in addressing it.

For developing countries, industrialisation and the development of new infrastructure is still rife, yet with sanctions being introduced globally, how can they undertake that development in an ethical and sustainable way without the climate finance and support they desperately need?

Further to that, commitments at New York in 2014 sought to stop deforestation, but failed to come to fruition, with deforestation continuing unabashed years later. This doesn’t inspire confidence that the commitments made in Glasgow will be acted upon in the next decade.

Back to our original question then, will COP26 leave a lasting impact or does it lack substance? It is perhaps too early to call. Whilst there is definite promise, the lack of firm timescales on draft documents, the unwillingness to finance less economically-developed countries and the questionable behaviour of some world leaders – some who attended, others who didn’t – raises doubts about the legacy of the event.

The proof will be in the pudding, and as early as 2024, we will see if large UK businesses properly commit to climate strategies, and if other economies around the world follow suit. The action for change must come from governments, individuals, businesses and industry leaders and a key element for success is collaboration. However, if governments squabble and fail to act decisively enough, we must urge businesses and other organisations to take hold of the reins to drive the progress we need.

The only way, however, to truly keep the COP26 legacy lasting is to keep talking and agreeing action. We must not let the conversations on the climate emergency die with the end of the conference. If we do, we sound the death knell for humanity. The planet will continue as it has after ice ages and previous mass extinction events, but we, the human race, are the ones at risk of causing our own demise if we don’t act quickly and decisively to change.

The SustainIQ team is on a mission to change the world, for good, and we’ll be relentless in advocating for and driving real change, not only for the planet, but for people & profit, ensuring we help to deliver the next generation into a truly sustainable, fair world.

Join us to make the legacy of COP26 a lasting one.

We’re continuing the conversation at #ClimateX with Digital DNA on 17th November. The event in Belfast will reflect on the key highlights from #COP26, and highlight what impact the sanctions and upcoming changes may have for local business.

We’ll be leading a panel focusing on Why Data is KEY to Good ESG, discussing the challenge with some key players across Northern Ireland’s economy. There is still time to sign up for the event here: https://www.digitaldna.org.uk/...

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The only way, however, to truly keep the COP26 legacy lasting is to keep talking and agreeing action. We must not let the conversations on the climate emergency die with the end of the conference. If we do, we sound the death knell for humanity. The planet will continue as it has after ice ages and previous mass extinction events, but we, the human race, are the ones at risk of causing our own demise if we don’t act quickly and decisively to change.


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