COP27 Action Tracker: Truss and Sharma tussle over whether King Charles should attend

edie's COP Action Tracker is returning for COP27

Taking place in Sharm-El-Sheikh this November, COP27 is a major event in the diary for anyone in the sustainability space.

At COP26 in Glasgow last year, nations collectively agreed to update their Paris Agreement commitments within 12 months and signed a new text, the Glasgow Climate Pact – the first from any COP to explicitly mention fossil fuels.

Much has changed since then. Here in the UK, we have a new Prime Minister who appears to be far more vocal in her support of fossil fuels and distain for renewables than her predecessor Boris Johnson. On a global scale, Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted energy markets and food and fertilizer supply chains.

With all of this in mind, edie has launched this COP27 Action Tracker – a regular round-up of the policy and business preparations being made here in the UK and across the world. Read on for our first edition.

The numbers

  • 90% of global GDP now covered by net-zero commitments
  • 20 nations have submitted Paris Agreement NDCs
  • 3,821 companies signed implementing science-based emissions targets
  • 1,817 companies with verified science-based emissions targets

The headlines

UK updates

In the run-up to COP26, the UK Government hosted a plethora of events and published swathes of green policy, including the Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Net-Zero Strategy.

This time around, new Prime Minister Liz Truss is settling into the role after being elected on 5 September. Truss and her Cabinet members have, so far, pushed the rhetoric of deregulation for economic growth as their primary priority. There have not been any major green policy packages published since she was elected, but her Government has been accused of planning to roll back protections for nature by key organisations in the UK’s green economy, and has been pressed to build on the energy price freeze with a new retrofitting package.

Truss has not stated whether she will attend COP27 herself. It has been confirmed that COP26 President Alok Sharma will attend to hand over the presidency and that he will be joined by new Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg.

There have also been reports that Truss has discouraged King Charles from attending COP27. This is despite the fact that he has attended numerous previous COPs and the fact that his mother was unable to attend Glasgow last year due to ill health. Sharma has publicly stated that the King should attend.

Global updates

Pre-COP talks were held last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The meetings, from Monday (3 October) to Wednesday (5 October), were intended to be high-level, convening ministers from around 50 countries.

Media outlets have reported that a key focus of the talks was international climate finance and loss and damage. This was perhaps to be expected; an agreement on a loss and damage facility was not reached in Glasgow, with observers reporting on opposition from the EU and the US.

Last year also saw developed nations admitting they had yet to meet a new ambition to provide $100bn of climate financing to the global south annually, with this target likely to be met for the first time in 2023 after being set in 2009. Economy Ministers from EU member-states met this week and said the commitment will still be met next year. Egypt has warned developed nations that the picture is still “troubling” and that there will be a “crisis” if finance promises are not met.

Wael Aboulmagd, Special Representative of the COP27 President, said: “The cross-cutting issue is always going to be finance. How are we going to pay for this? We cannot continue along an extremely adversarial trajectory. We need to find creative ways to come up with finance.”

In other news, it has been reported that many African climate activists are experiencing difficulties getting access to the talks. The Guardian has reported that only 20% of grassroots activists have secured accreditation, and that many with accreditation are still unlikely to attend due to challenges securing visas and booking travel and accommodation.

More globally, it has been confirmed that just 20 countries have updated their Paris Agreement NDCs ahead of the conference. Included in this cohort are the UK, Egypt and India.

Business news

Following the hustle and bustle of Climate Week NYC last month, this week has been a little quieter in terms of sustainable business news.

The story causing the biggest stir is doubtless the Coca-Cola Company’s decision to be a supporter sponsor for COP27 – a decision it has doubled down on despite intense criticism.

The soft drinks giant was announced as a sponsor last week and, very quickly, environmental activists and nature charities posted to express concerns.

Comms Declares’s founder Belinda Noble declared: “You know the fossil fuel fox is in the hen house when the world’s largest plastic polluter sponsors COP27…The organisers are so ignorant about the insidious power of greenwashing that they allowed this to happen, and it shows that the soft power of fossil fuelled organisations continues to pervade our society.”

Greenpeace USA’s oceans campaign director John Hocevar added: “This partnership undermines the very objective of the event it seeks to sponsor.  Cutting plastic production and ending single-use plastic is in line with the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees.”

For context, the companies chosen as principal partners for COP26 (the highest level of

sponsorship) were Unilever, SSE, Sky, ScottishPower, Sainsbury’s, Reckitt, Natwest Group, National Grid, Microsoft, Hitachi and GSK. COP26 did not end without its fair share of sponsor greenwashing accusations.

Words of wisdom

“On every climate front, the only solution is decisive action in solidarity. COP27 is the place for all countries, led by the G20, to show they are in this fight, and in it together.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

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