In the December issue of The Sustainable Business Review we assess some of the key outcomes of COP26, from pacts to accelerate take-up of low-carbon technologies such as green hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels, to the fashion industry cleaning up its act, and the private-sector push to win the war against deforestation

It may take months, if not years, to judge if all the pledges and agreements reached at COP26 will be enough to help us course-correct away from our dangerous climate trajectory.

The challenge could not be more daunting: to ensure a liveable planet for younger generations, we need to cut emissions by 45% by 2030. As UN secretary-general António Gutteres said in Glasgow, the goal of “keeping 1.5C alive” is not dead, “but it is on life support”.  

In his ESG Watch column this month, Mike Scott reports that agreements to end deforestation, phase down the use of coal, replace internal combustion engines, and rein in methane emissions were largely aspirational and far from comprehensive. But they do signal to the financial services sector and investors the direction they need to be travelling over the coming decade.

And while it was easy to be cynical about the thousands of corporates who flocked to Glasgow, seeking to outdo each other with their net-zero carbon pledges, as I report in my COP26 analysis, it was also clear that unsubstantiated climate claims are not going to cut it any more, with consumers, investors and regulators.  

(Credit: Bruno Kelly/Reuters)

From the Science Based Targets Initiative’s launch of its net-zero standard, to the new International Sustainability Standards Board, and the work of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial disclosures, accountability and verification of net-zero claims will be the focus going forward.

And as Oliver Balch writes in his Brand Watch column, big brands that have set science-based targets now realise they are going to have to take the thousands of suppliers in their value chain on the same sustainability journeys. But they are on a steep learning curve, particularly in the food and drink sector, and the hard work to do that starts now.

There were breakthrough agreements signed to address industrial emissions, at COP26, as I report in my article on the launch of the First Movers Coalition by U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.  

The 34 members of the First Movers Coalition have agreed to to paying premiums for nascent green technologies in seven hard-to-abate industries, with the idea of turbocharging demand, and rapidly scaling up the needed climate solutions in sectors like steel, trucking, shipping and aviation.

(Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters)

In the case of the latter, the agreement to purchase sustainable aviation fuels is adding to growing momentum from all quarters to use SAF to tackle fast growing aviation emissions.

And we end this special COP26 review issue by taking a close look at the Leaf Coalition, a partnership launched in April between the UK, U.S. and Norway and a what has grown to 19 blue-chip companies, which has managed to raise $1bn a year in finance to protect tropical forests.  

The next issue of The Sustainable Business Review will come out in January, when Angeli Mehta will be returning with her Policy Watch column. 

Main picture: Apple vice president Lisa Jackson shakes hands with U.S. President Joe Biden at COP26. 


COP26  1.5C goal  Science Bsed Targets initative  ethical investing  John Kerry  First Movers Coalition  LEAF coalition  aviation industry  industrial emissions 

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