Monday, April 5, 2021


Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow - the venue for the COP26 summit
Spotlight on COP Presidency events

In March, Ministers have been prioritising preparing for two high profile events: the Climate and Development Ministerial Meeting and COP26-IEA Net Zero Summit, both of which occured on 31st March.

The Climate and Development Ministerial convened countries and partners to discuss the challenges and priorities for implementing the Paris Climate Agreement and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Conducted virtually, the event brought together ministers and stakeholders to identify practical next steps on a series of priority issues for climate vulnerable communities ahead of COP26:
  • access to climate finance
  • responding to the impacts of climate change
  • quantity, quality and composition of climate finance
  • fiscal space and debt sustainability 
COP President Designate, the Foreign Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and other government ministers and spokespeople heard about the challenges faced by vulnerable communities and began to identify next steps. You can find a summary of the event here and Alok Sharma's speech here.

We also partnered with the International Energy Agency to convene the IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit. This event brought together decision makers from over 40 countries to focus on the critical need for international collaboration and policy implementation to accelerate clean energy transitions.

Senior figures including Alok Sharma, Frans Timmermans (Executive Vice-President of the European Commission) and John Kerry (US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate) all made strong calls for more international collaboration and several countries supported the IEA's key principles to guide the implementation of net zero commitments.

You can read more about the Net Zero Summit here and find Alok Sharma's opening speech here.
News from the COP26 Unit
In addition to the Climate and Development Ministerial Meeting and Net Zero Summit, some of the key international meetings this month included:
  • COP President Designate Alok Sharma has visited a number of key countries including: encouraging French business leaders to show real climate leadership in 2021; in Costa Rica, meeting President Alvarado to congratulate him on his commitment to combating climate change and protecting biodiversity as well as former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueresdiscussing opportunities with Kenyan ministers to push forward climate ambition
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK's International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for COP26 carried out a virtual visit to Nigeria. She also spoke with a range of countries, including the Philippines, Rwanda and Jamaica, in preparation for the Climate and Development Ministerial where she has been encouraging countries to attend, join the Adaptation Action Coalition and to publish an Adaptation communication. 
  • US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited London and met with the Prime Minister, the COP26 President Designate, the Foreign and Development Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They discussed the importance of rallying all countries to strengthen climate ambition and how to support the most vulnerable countries to adapt and respond to climate impacts. 

COP President Designate meeting the Daraja project team in Kenya, to discuss their climate adaptation initiatives.

Ministers and other senior figures have also been taking part in several events, in support of COP26 priorities, including:
  • COP26 President Designate spoke at the 5th Ministerial on Climate Action on 23 March, hosted by the European Union, China and Canada. He reiterated the importance of using the road to COP26 to accelerate progress on climate negotiations.
  • We participated in a number of activities to mark International Women's Day, including Anne-Marie Trevelyan delivering the keynote speech an event on climate change and gender equality, ‘Making Climate Finance Work for Women and Girls’. She was highlighting the importance of making climate finance work for women and girls to boost gender equality and ensure better outcomes for the planet. Women and girls are the most impacted by climate change and need to be empowered to adapt, as they are also powerful agents of change.
  • The British Embassy in San Jose hosted an event featuring Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Lord Goldsmith and Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta on harnessing the power of nature for adaptation and resilience (24-25 March).
  • The first partner initiatives for the Race to Resilience were announced on 30 March at an event convened by the High Level Champions, which Anne-Marie Trevelyan also attended. The campaign sets out to catalyse a step-change in global ambition for climate resilience, putting people and nature first.
  • We have been conducting monthly multilateral consultations with parties to identify and test solutions to key negotiations topics. These were set up by the COP26 incoming presidency and COP25 Chilean Presidency, in partnership with the Subsidiary Body Chairs and with the support of the UNFCCC secretariat. We've so far held consultations on Article 6, Adaptation and on the way forward to COP26. Alongside other Presiding Officers, we also set out the plan for a range of activities on negotiations issues.
The UK COP26 team has also released a range of reports and other announcements from across the COP Unit this month, which provide further details and updates on key priorities:
  • Alok Sharma published an article in the Guardian setting out his priorities for COP26, which you can read here.  
  • 'What does gender have to do with climate change?', a LinkedIn article by COP26 Director for Communications, Caroline Holtum
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan's priorities for Adaptation and Resilience, published in Business Green
  • Ahead of the Business 7 Summit in May, which brings together businesses from across the G7, Alok Sharma renewed his call for businesses to join the Race to Zero. We will showcase the most ambitious of these commitments at the summit in May. Joining the Race to Zero requires organisations to set net zero targets that are robust and credible, and put in place concrete plans to deliver them.
  • We have already seen great progress from UK businesses leading the way - on Tuesday 30 March, we announced that a third of the UK's largest companies have now joined the Race to Zero. This milestone means pledges have doubled in the past 5 months, with companies including AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s, and Unilever and in total representing a total market capital of £650 billion.
  • We were also delighted to welcome Hitachi as a Principal Partner and Boston Consulting Group as a Partner. 

We were also struck by another recent set of urgent calls to action from across the climate community. These continue to highlight that, while we are making good progress in many areas, there is still much more to do: 
  • The UNFCCC published the initial NDC Synthesis report that assessed the cumulative impact of the 48 Nationally Determined Contributions that were submitted by 31 December 2020 (representing 30% of global emissions). This shows an incomplete but important picture that we are a long way off what is collectively required to close the 2030 emissions gap and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. The UK issued a call to action, asking all countries (particularly major emitters) to submit strong 2030 NDC targets that are in line with the best available science. There will be an update to this report closer to COP26, which will provide the latest global picture. 
  • Similar urgent findings in the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)  report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020, also released this year. The data suggest that the last decade was the warmest on record, and placed a global average temperature between January and October 2020 at 1.2°C above pre-industrial (1850–1900) levels. In the Arctic, the annual minimum sea-ice extent in 2020 was the second-lowest on record, and the average rate of sea-level rise peaked in 2020 at 3.3mm /year.
Coming up
  • April 7-8: G20 Finance Ministers and Central Banks meeting
  • April 9-11: World Bank/IMF Spring Annual meetings
  • April 12: Energy Transition Council Second Ministerial Meeting, which will continue to explore barriers to accelerating the coal to clean energy transition and identify potential responses from the international community to address these
  • April 12: 60th session of the IPCC Bureau 
  • April 13-15: Raisina Dialogue, India's Flagship Foreign Policy Conference
  • April 22: US-convened Leaders' Climate Summit 
  • April 26: Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council. This will be the second meeting of the council. You can read about the first one here.
  • April TBC: The April negotiations consultations will focus on Transparency and Common Time Frames, with consultations held at alternating time zones to increase participation from all parties. 
Get involved

Race to ZeroWe encourage all businesses, investors, cities, regions and universities to join the largest alliance of organisations committed to reaching net zero by 2050 at the latest. Small and medium sized businesses can now also commit through the SME Climate Hub. Cities can join the Race to Zero via Cities Race to Zero

The London Stock Exchange Group and UN Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative have released this report summarising the different initiatives investors can join to support climate action. 

Universities can also join the COP26 Universities Network - a growing group of more than 40 UK-based universities working together to raise ambition for tangible outcomes from the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference: https://www.gla.ac.uk/research/cop26/

Together For Our Planet has partnered with the WWF to launch the Creative Earth Art Competition for school-aged children to draw their vision for the world in the future. A panel of judges will choose winners from the different age categories and artwork will also be showcased at COP26. Entries must be submitted by 5 April. For more information visit the Together For Our Planet website and watch as actor and broadcaster Cel Spellman surprises a class of children to launch the competition.

Glasgow City Council have launched a search for volunteers for COP26. They will play a key role in representing Glasgow and the UK to delegates from around the world. They'll provide information on the conference and conference venues, advice on how to move around the city and promote the best of what Glasgow has to offer. You can find out more information on this on the COP26 website.

COP26 will be a carbon-neutral conference, with sustainability at its core, that will leave a positive legacy You can read more about our commitment to hosting a sustainable COP26 summit here. 
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