Held in Glasgow between 31 October – 12 November, the UN Climate Change Conference  is setting the political, media and business agenda. Follow proceedings with our bi-weekly round-up.

The main event

China-US agreement

On Wednesday came the unexpected announcement that the world’s two biggest emitters have agreed to work together towards reducing CO2 emissions.

  • The details of the agreement are sparse, but President Biden and Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual meeting as early as next week to discuss further.
  • Analysts say it is a tacit acknowledgement from China that climate change is a pressing issue which warrants urgent attention and international cooperation. External-link. [US Govt]

New climate draft deal

A second draft of the COP26 agreement first outlined on Wednesday has been published. All 197 parties in attendance must agree to every part of the final agreement.

  • The wording around the phasing out of coal and fossil fuels has softened but remains a ‘landmark’ request should it pass.
  • A deal must be agreed by the end of the summit, with negotiations expected to stretch into the night.
  • Many remain sceptical that the agreement will be enough to limit global warming to the 1.5C agreed in Paris. External-link. [UK Govt]

UK government launch Urban Climate Action Programme

On Thursday, the UK government launched a new Urban Climate Action programme (UCAP) to support developing countries to accelerate their transition to net zero.

  • £27.5 million of new UK government funding will support cities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to take action to tackle climate change and grow sustainably in the future.
  • The world’s urban buildings are responsible for around 40% of global emissions and are therefore seen as crucial to combatting climate change. External-link. [UK Govt]

In the news

Johnson returns to Glasgow

Boris Johnson took the train north to revisit COP26, and delivered a speech imploring delegates to ‘pull out all the stops’ in their efforts to keep a COP26 deal alive.

  • Reports of Boris Johnson’s speech, in which he said that agreements alone could not fix the climate and that greater action was needed. External-link. [The Times] External-link. [Daily Mail] External-link. [Sky News] External-link. [ITV News]

US and China come to surprise agreement

China and the US issued a surprise joint declaration, in which they promised to co-operate in their efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C

  • The two countries agreed to accelerate work to phase out the use of coal, as well as to work together to encourage other countries make carbon-reduction pledges. External-link. [The Times] External-link. [The Telegraph] External-link. [Financial Times] External-link. [The Guardian] External-link. [BBC News]
  • Many said the announcement brought some much-needed optimism to the summit, especially since the two nations are vital to reducing carbon emissions. External-link. [The Independent] External-link. [Financial Times] External-link. [The Guardian]
  • The Telegraph found that the deal was significant for the change in language from China, and for a new commitment to cut methane emissions. External-link. [The Telegraph]

Delegates haggle over coal commitment

As COP26 approached its scheduled end, negotiations over the final deal began. The first draft’s ambition caused some friction between delegates.

Wording ultimately watered-down

Some last-minute changes to the draft text were therefore required, which softened the language on fossil fuel subsidies.

Countries battle over funding

The other sticking point in the negotiations on the final deal concerned financing for less economically developed countries.

  • The draft agreement was criticised for not providing enough money to help poorer nations deal with the effects of climate change. External-link. [The Guardian] External-link[BBC News] External-link[Financial Times]
  • Ireland’s climate minister came out against a loss and damage fund for poorer countries. External-link. [The Times]

Other voices

Leading bank to increase ESG lending by 40%

Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank, has announced plans to increase its ESG lending to $3 billion this year

  • Russia’s foremost lender has announced that the value of its ESG loans will multiply in 2022 External-link. [Reuters] 

Bezos fund CEO calls for climate-focused reshaping of development banks

The head of Jeff Bezos’ $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund has urged governments to take on more of the risk associated with climate finance

  • Andrew Steer says supranational development banks are key to climate action External-link. [Reuters] 

Bahamas PM says COP26 lacks ‘teeth’

Facing near-term existential climate threat, The Prime Minister of the Bahamas described the Glasgow Summit as toothless

  • Philip Davis says Boris Johnson hasn’t conveyed ‘seriousness’ of climate crisis External-link. [Sky News]

New study shows planet will warm by 2.4C despite COP pledges

New analysis from the Climate Action Tracker shows climate goals remain distant

  • CAT says earth is headed for 2.4C warming External-link. [BBC News]

Scotland in talks with BOGA to halt oil and gas production

Scottish government in climate talks with Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance

  • Scotland is in talks with an inter-governmental alliance to end oil and gas production External-link. [FT]

European Business Schools team up to offer climate training

Eight top institutions put competition aside to improve research and teaching

  • Business Schools for Climate Leadership seeks to empower new generation of business leaders to tackle environmental crisis External-link. [FT]

Energy companies call for $3tn investment in long duration storage

Group calling for new push includes energy giants BP and Siemens

  • The Long Duration Energy Storage Council formed on Thursday, calling for new cash for emissions-cutting technology External-link. [FT]

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