7 things you need to know from Day Two of the COP26 World Leaders Summit

After scene-setting speeches from Sir David Attenborough, Barbados' Prime Minister Mia Mottley and others on Monday (1 November), Tuesday was another jam-packed day at COP26. Here, edie rounds up seven key announcements from Day Two of the World Leaders Summit.

7 things you need to know from Day Two of the COP26 World Leaders Summit

The Scottish Events Campus (pictured) was once again jam-packed

Monday saw the headlines going to Attenborough and Mottley, as well as the Queen, who broadcast a pre-recorded message. Also in the papers for all the wrong reasons were UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (breaking the Scottish mask mandate and falling asleep) and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (not convincing others he has changed his mind on coal).

Then, today, at Day Two of what is officially called the ‘World Leaders Summit’, high-level addresses and press briefings continued, but formal negotiations began in earnest and world leaders were keen to announce top-level collaborative pledges before some of them depart Glasgow, leaving the remaining work to ministers and negotiators.

Such commitments were made on cleantech, renewable energy, nature and methane, among other key topics. Here, edie rounds up seven of the day’s major talking points, as pressure mounts for world leaders to turn talk into action at the scale and pace befitting the climate crisis.

1) 11 nations plus EU pledge $12bn for nature restoration

Image: UNClimateChange

One of the biggest headlines from Monday came as the clock approached midnight – news that 100 nations, collectively hosting 85% of forests globally, have pledged to halt and potentially reverse land degradation and deforestation this decade.

The EU and 11 standalone nations today made a separate commitment to allocate more than $12bn to efforts to halt and reverse deforestation globally, with a focus on developing nations and a requirement to protect the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The so-called Global Forest Finance Pledge (GFFP) has been described as the largest commitment of its kind. Of course, the devil is now in the detail and the delivery, but tentative optimism has been expressed. Click here for edie’s full story.

2) Nations, philanthropists, investors launch clean energy coalitions targeting billions

The Bezos Earth Fund, Ikea Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation have forged a major new alliance with central investment banks, aiming to mobilise $100bn for renewable energy, other low-carbon technologies and green jobs. The initiative is called the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP).

Separately, the governments of India and the UK have launched a ‘Green Grids Initiative’ that will convene national governments, policymakers, businesses, researchers and citizens’ groups in efforts to accelerate the construction of new renewable energy infrastructure. The specific focus will be international energy trading, to help overcome the intermittency of solar generation by connecting nations in different time zones. Click here for edie’s full story.

3) ‘Breakthrough Agenda’ for cleantech garners the support of 40 nations

Much has been said about cleantech in the past 48 hours, with world leaders in the global north called upon to use the solutions already available and to be realistic about when – and if – emerging solutions are likely to reach scale. At the same time, there is the need to lay the foundations to ensure that such technologies will be ready and scaled in the hard-to-abate sectors that will still exist post-2050, including transport and steel manufacturing.

This afternoon, 40 nations announced their support for a ‘Breakthrough Agenda’ initiative which will aim to scale up clean technologies with applications in sectors that account for more than half of global emissions. The overarching ambition is affordability and scale by 2030, for technologies including low-carbon hydrogen, sustainable agricultural systems and low-carbon transport.

Supporting nations include the US, India and China – the world’s three largest contributors to annual global emissions – as well as the UK and the EU. Click here for edie’s full story.

4) Methane emissions in key nations to be cut by 30% by 2030

Back in September, the EU and US spearheaded a new Global Methane Pledge, jointly stating their intention to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030, against a 2020 baseline. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and sources include natural gas production.

The Global Methane Pledge today went truly global – it now has backing from more than 100 of the UN’s 193 member states. This was welcome after the G20 communique released in Rome this weekend was the first to reference methane, but failed to set firm targets for reduction.

5) Water and Climate Coalition gets to work

Nature and climate are certainly being framed as twin crises here in Glasgow, but calls for the water crisis to also be removed from its metaphorical silo are also strengthening. A new group called the Water and Climate Coalition launched today at COP26, with attendees prompted to consider the fact that 80% of global climate impacts are manifested through water. Record floods are happening in some geographies, droughts in others. Melting ice, sea-level rise and sea acidification threaten lives and livelihoods.

The new Coalition is being convened by the heads of UN Water and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and will bring together current and former world leaders, the private sector, civil society groups and youth envoys. The aim is to deliver a joined-up approach across governance, finance, data and information – and to highlight the interconnections between water systems, food systems, climate and nature.

6) Protests continue as UK Government keeps quiet on Cambo

As expected, protests are taking place at various times and locations across Glasgow, with green groups calling for binding promises for a fossil-fuel phase-out and for all commitments to be aligned with 1.5C at the least.

XR marched past the security gates outside the SEC this afternoon, after their performance art arm, the Red Rebels, arrived in town yesterday. Some held signs saying “you cannot arrest us all” and “the climate crisis will be more disruptive than this”.

The Polluters Out, Make Polluters Pay and Stop Cambo campaigns, after joining a huge demonstration with others including Friday for Future, were featured on national TV, arguing that the UK Government is showing hypocrisy by refusing to block 40+ proposed new oil and gas projects including the Cambo oil field operations proposed by Shell and Siccar Point.

7) Mark Carney, Larry Fink and more prepare for finance day

Wednesday (3 November) will mark the end of the World Leaders Summit and the first of eight themed days here in the Blue and Green Zones. The first theme will be finance, which could, of course, have been given a full two weeks to itself.

London’s Green Finance Institute (GFI) is hosting a Green Horizon Hub side event, which today saw speeches from BlackRock boss Larry Fink and former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. This served as an early scene-setter for finance day.

Fink spoke about climate risk disclosure, urging nations to mandate it from private companies at this critical moment in the divestment movement. He also made calls for increased finance to developing nations for climate mitigation and adaptation. However, eyes rolled when he implored financiers to see fossil fuel investments as “part of the solution, not the problem”, arguing that the sector needs support to transfer skills to cleaner roles. S&P Global Markets estimates that BlackRock held $12bn in coal and $87bn in oil and gas investments in September 2020.

Separately, HM Treasury has confirmed some of the items at the top of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s to-do list for tomorrow. They include clarifying which businesses will be mandated to produce net-zero transition plans and to what timeframes; launching a new standard to ensure these plans are not greenwashing; opening a new investment mechanism to help developing nations access finance and outlining plans for more sovereign green bonds. To this latter point, the UK Government issued its first packages this year, totalling £16bn. It now has its sights set on a further £22-51bn.

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from COP26 with edie’s Live Blog. 

Sarah George and Matt Mace

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