Ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the UK’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Simon Manley, convened leaders of the international community to discuss the conference and how to implement the Paris Agreement for limiting global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
COP26 is the most important climate change conference since the landmark agreement was reached in Paris in 2015. Countries must submit ambitious national plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and long-term strategies for a path to net zero. Quickly reducing emissions is crucial to avoiding the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Representatives from key thematic areas of the global environmental agenda outlined the goals for COP26, developments from country negotiations, the latest scientific findings on climate change, the role of nature, business engagement, financing climate action, the asks of civil society, and a winner of the Earthshot Prize (“Fix Our Climate”) outlined the potential for green hydrogen in the energy transition.
Speakers stressed the importance of coordinating across the fora of international organisations with extensive global reach and expertise in combatting and adapting to climate change. They noted that the breadth of international organisations, civil society groups, and conventions and initiatives in Geneva serves as a fundamental lever for advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Simon Manley, said, “The climate crisis is an economic issue, a trade issue, a human rights issue, a health issue, and a humanitarian issue so it’s fundamentally a Geneva issue.”
Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said, “Every day that goes by without being able to implement the Paris Agreement in full is a wasted day. Inaction is the result of an inability to make difficult decisions. And failing to decide may end up being the same as deciding to fail.”
Eric Usher, Head of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, said, “We are seeing an unprecedented mobilization from across the financial sector on the net-zero objective with alliances of investors, banks and insurers responsible for trillions of dollars of financing to the real economy setting clear time-based targets to relegate carbon pollution to the history books.”
María Mendiluce, Chief Executive Officer of the We Mean Business Coalition, said, “If the business sector raises their ambition and action on climate, then policymakers will have the confidence to have ambitious policies as well.”
Vaitea Cowan, Cofounder of Enapter and winner of the “Fix Our Climate” Earthshot Prize 2021, said, “There has never been a greater opportunity for positive change. Through international collaboration, we can phase out fossil fuels and scale up renewable solutions, like green hydrogen. Let’s not waste any more time.”
Earlier this week, the UK released a landmark national net-zero strategy to move to clean power, support hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs and leverage up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.
The UK Mission to the UN, WTO and other international organisations in Geneva will continue to advance the goals of the COP26 Presidency with the international environmental community in Geneva.
See the recording and details of the event: see here
Learn more about COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland: see here