COP26 - the first week

The UN’s COP26 began on 1 November, focussing on the goals of achieving net zero by 2050 and a global temperature reduction, protecting communities and natural habitats, mobilising finance and working collectively to tackle the climate emergency. The first week produced many newsworthy moments: Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley’s powerful speech, Greta Thunberg’s denunciation of the summit as a “two-week festival of business as usual and blah blah blah”, and India committing to net zero by 2070 to name just a few.

Member nations have made a number of commitments to reduce their environmental impact and, with many of their pledges likely to impact the construction industry, here are some of the key takeaways for anyone in this sector:

  • Boris Johnson launched the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda, stating that “By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world. The Glasgow Breakthroughs will turbocharge this forward, so that by 2030 clean technologies can be enjoyed everywhere, not only reducing emissions but also creating more jobs and greater prosperity”. Critically for the construction industry, four of the five sectors being targeted are power, transport, hydrogen and steel, with the aim of making low or zero carbon options the standard choice within these sectors.
  • Member nations committed to end deforestation and to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, both of which are major causes of climate change. To read more about the importance of the global methane pledge, Patrick Wisehu’s blog can be found here.
  • India and the UK have launched the Green Grids Initiative. This international collaboration will bring together members, including governments, companies, legislators and researchers, to support the acceleration of renewable technology and infrastructure through a “global eco-system of renewables that are shared for mutual benefit and global sustainability”.
  • An International Sustainability Standards Board has been set up to create a universal set of standards for corporate disclosure relating to sustainability. Currently there are multiple different standards, many of which are voluntary, so this move will help align disclosures and set meaningful benchmarks for sustainability.

Week two’s programme  has included science and innovation (9th November), transport (10th November) and Cities, Regions and Built Environment (11th November). Look out for my comments on this. 

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