There was much rhetoric and several significant pledges at what has been the most high-profile UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties to date. The topic has led the headlines every day for the past fortnight, which only serves to underline the scale of the climate change crisis and the speed with which it must be tackled.
Here we round up the key developments and signpost useful resources that might help in shaping your organisation’s activities – because right now is most certainly the time for action.
1. Businesses net zero plans will face greater scrutiny
- Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, set the tone by announcing a desire to appoint a new expert group to draft clear standards for net zero targets from non-state actors, saying “There is a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics.”
- The Chancellor announced that the UK will become the first net zero aligned financial centre and big UK firms and financial institutions will have to produce detailed public plans on achieving a low-carbon future from 2023. Plans will be submitted to a panel of experts, the new Transition Plan Taskforce, to ensure firms are not greenwashing.
- The IFRS Foundation Trustees confirmed the formation of an International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to create a globe baseline for corporate sustainability disclosures that meet investor demands
- The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative launched a new award – The Terra Carta Seal – for companies who ‘hold a leadership position’ on net zero
- The Department for Education announced a new ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ style award for climate progress, and to make climate action an integral part of the curriculum, meaning that the workforce / customer / client of the future will be much more climate aware (and therefore much more likely to call out bad sustainability behaviour).
2. Energy efficiency will be crucial to net zero
- Former US President Barack Obama championed energy efficiency, saying “Companies are starting to figure out that becoming energy efficient is better for their bottom line” and that being a sustainable leader will help firms “win customers and employees“.
- The Exponential Roadmap Initiative launched the 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide to halve GHG emissions before 2030, which will provide valuable support in addressing Scope 3 emissions.
- The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) unveiled its ‘Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap’ – a tool to help businesses across the built environment sector measure and cut carbon from materials, processes, operation and demolition. It also includes several policy recommendations for government, particularly around setting clear energy reduction targets for domestic and non-domestic properties.
- The COP26 Product Efficiency Call to Action was launched by the International Energy Agency, which calls to improve the efficiency of four key products – air conditioners, refrigerators, industrial motors and lighting – by 2030.
3. Renewables will need to be part of business’ procurement strategies, as the use of fossil fuels is ‘phased down.’
- 190 countries and organisations have pledged to phase down the use of coal power – this was a much publicised and 11th hour amendment to the original commitment to ‘phase out’.
- Over 20 countries have signed up to a new declaration pledging to end the financing of fossil fuel infrastructure overseas.
- There was a pledge by nearly 100 countries to cut methane levels by 30% by 2030 – particularly relevant for sectors like agriculture and waste management.
- In the UK, the government confirmed £210m funding for Rolls Royce to develop small nuclear reactors to generate clean energy.
4. Businesses will need to focus on clean transportation
- 22 countries committed to creating at least six zero-emission maritime routes by 2025 under the Clydebank Declaration, with plans to expand this significantly by 2030.
- DfT and BEIS published the COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans, signed by vehicle manufacturers, civil society, investors, national governments, states, regions and cities, all committed to work towards 100% zero emission vehicle sales by 2035 at the latest in leading markets, and 2040 globally
- However, major car manufacturers including VW, BMW and Toyota and the US, China and Germany haven’t signed it.
- It also confirmed that all new HGVs in the UK will have be zero-emission by 2040
- Transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled a new type of EV ChargePoint, which is designed to make EVs more accessible to all.
Achieving net zero can seem like a daunting prospect for nations and business alike. One thing is clear from the event of the past two weeks – this is a challenge that we all must take on together. It cannot be done alone. Effective collaboration with customers, suppliers, colleagues and stakeholders is the key.
There is support out there to help you make progress… step by step. Our expert team at Envantage are on hand to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch today.
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