FleishmanHillard COP26 Daily Digest, Day 3: Tuesday 2 November 2021:
COP26 moves to day two of the Leaders Summit, after reaction to India’s 2070 net-zero announcement dominated news and commentary overnight. Developing countries’ leaders used their platforms yesterday to advocate for significant improvement to climate finance while mobilising commitments to forest protection was also a priority.
Today’s COP26 Daily Digest also begins our ‘Connecting to COP26’ series, with perspectives from around the FleishmanHillard network. Insights today come from Mike Schmidt, Partner and Public Affairs practice head at FleishmanHillard Washington, D.C.
INDIA PRIME MINISTER MODI PLEDGES NET-ZERO BY 2070
Plans to cut emissions to net-zero by 2070 announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Leaders Summit were broadly welcomed by climate experts, though received some criticism for not moving quickly enough.
While the 2070 net-zero target falls behind the 2050 commitment made by the United Kingdom, United States, Europe and many others, and the 2060 commitment made by China and Saudi Arabia, it is in line with what many climate experts have modelled as the most feasible scenario for India to achieve net-zero. It also includes a target of 50 percent of energy from renewables by 2030.
The commitments drew praise from Nicholas Stern, a leading climate ecologist, who hailed the pledge as significant.
“This demonstrates real leadership from a country whose emissions per capita are about one-third of the global average,” he said. “The rich world must respond [and] deliver a strong increase in international climate finance.”
Interestingly, social media commentary was less supportive, with comments dismissing the pledge as “laughable”, “society will have broken down by then”, and that with rapidly rising temperatures and sea levels “India may not be in existence in 2070”.
It reinforces the added challenge that leaders will face communicating with a public that increasingly expects rapid progress.
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the United States, and the EU, and relies on coal for 50% of its electricity needs. However its per capita carbon emissions are roughly one-third of China’s and one-seventh of the United States’.
POWERFUL WORDS FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
For some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world, climate finance is the biggest issue to resolve at COP26 – and they are demanding action.
Governments of developed countries have failed to provide the $100 billion a year they promised by 2020. The funding is crucial for adaptation – adjusting to the growing effects of climate change – and mitigation – reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
A new financing plan set out ahead of the Glasgow summit recognises the shortfall but says the target will be met by 2023. But developing countries say that’s too little, too late, with impassioned speeches on Monday by leaders from countries like Barbados, Seychelles, Malawi, and others.
Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, stated, “I ask to you: what must we say to our people, living on the frontline in the Caribbean, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Pacific, when both ambition and, regrettably, some of the needed faces at Glasgow, are not present? What excuse should we give for the failure?”
Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi, declared, “The money pledged to the least developed nations by developed nations is not a donation, but a cleaning fee. Neither Africa in general, nor Malawi in particular, will take no for an answer. Not anymore.”
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote in today’s Financial Times about the importance of a just transition. He stated, “This, to be clear, is not about charity.
This is about fairness and mutual benefit. Countries with developed economies carry the greatest responsibility for climate change because they have historically been the biggest polluters. Developing economies are the worst affected.”
Dr Alina Averchenkova, from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, says: “$100bn isn’t going to do it – we need to move trillions in both public and private money. The pandemic has shown us it can be done when there is political will. Unfortunately, climate change is quickly becoming the same kind of emergency – and it will be with us for the long term.”
PROTECTING FORESTS, FINANCING A BETTER FOREST ECONOMY
Late on Monday, more than 100 leaders agreed on a major commitment to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, with their countries representing 85 percent of the world’s forests, including Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Canada and Russia.
The agreement due to be signed on Tuesday will include approximately $19 billion in financial support, and governments of 28 countries will also commit to stop deforestation as part of food production and trade, covering products such as palm oil, soya and cocoa.
Simultaneously, the ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ event brought together an alliance of governments, companies, financiers, and non-state leaders to raise ambition on forests and land use.
As part of the outcomes, CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets have committed to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation, alongside the billions of private finance mobilised to support the forest economy through three flagship initiatives.
The Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition exceeded its target of mobilising $1 billion in public-private commitments.
LEAF will provide finance to tropical and subtropical countries that successfully reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.
Private finance will be provided only by companies already committed to deep emissions cuts in their own supply chains, in line with science-based targets. This is expected to become one of the largest ever public-private efforts to protect tropical forests and support sustainable development.
Nine multilateral development banks have also launched a joint statement outlining the actions they will take to mainstream nature into their policies, analysis, assessments, advice, investments, and operations, in line with their respective mandates and operating models.