FleishmanHillard COP26 Daily Digest, Day 4: Wednesday 3 November 2021:
Tuesday in Glasgow focused on further pledges and funding commitments to scale up green technology and make it more affordable, headlined by a new European Union Catalyst programme. In addition, more than 100 countries signed up to the voluntary Global Methane Pledge, led by the United States and EU, which will cut methane emissions by 30 percent of 2020 levels by 2030.
€1BN INNOVATION FUND TO BRIDGE CLIMATE TECH AFFORDABILITY GAP
Europe will have faster access to new climate technologies thanks to a €1 billion public and private investment scheme announced by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at COP26 on Tuesday.
The EU Catalyst programme, launched in partnership with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and the European Investment Bank, will finance and commercialise breakthrough clean technologies, such as green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is considered a vital technology for delivering the EU’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The catalyst partnership will begin selecting projects for funding from next year.
Funding will also go to projects to develop new sustainable aviation fuels, which remain more expensive than traditional kerosene fuels but are pivotal to the aviation sector’s path to carbon neutrality.
Bill Gates told a press conference in Glasgow that the fund would reduce the “green premium” – the cost gap between often cheaper fossil fuels and more expensive renewable technology, estimated to be around $5 trillion a year.
“Innovation can bear a lot of the burden of trying to reduce the affordability gap to do these things,” he said.
STEPPING ON THE GAS WITH GLOBAL METHANE PLEDGE
The Global Methane Pledge announced Tuesday by U.S. President Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will cut methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2020 levels.
The commitment was well received at COP26 and supported by more than 100 countries, though not China, Russia or India.
One of the most potent greenhouse gases, methane is responsible for a third of current climate heating from human activities. However, its impact is shorter-lived than carbon dioxide, lasting a couple decades rather than hundreds of years, meaning cutting methane emissions now can have a significant short-term impact in reducing global heating. Primary sources include oil and gas production and agriculture.
Vanessa Perez-Cirera, WWF Global Deputy Lead Climate & Energy, hailed the plan as “one of the quickest and most powerful ways we can take action”.
“However, with food systems responsible for around 50% of methane emissions, we will only have success if regenerative agricultural practices, as well as other food consumption actions, are also urgently adopted,” she said.
Yet Russia, China, and India – three of the most significant emitters of methane – are not part of the voluntary pledge.
And Carbon Brief, a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy, says the pledge needs to go further.
In a post, experts asserted that only by combining the reduction in methane with the phasing out of coal can long-term climate and air quality benefits can be achieved.
BEZOS EARTH FUND IN BID TO BOOST CARBON SEQUESTRATION
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has committed to spend $2 billion restoring landscapes and transforming food systems while driving greater carbon sequestration.
Mr Bezos told COP26 delegates that in too many parts of the world, “nature is already flipping from a carbon sink to a carbon source.”
His Bezos Earth Fund plans to spend $10 billion fighting climate change overall. In September, he pledged $1 billion to help conserve nature and protect indigenous peoples and cultures.
This latest $2 billion pledge is earmarked for Africa, where it would be used to reverse the degradation of approximately two-thirds of Africa’s productive land.
“Restoration can improve soil fertility, raise yields and improve food security, make water more reliable, create jobs and boost economic growth, while also sequestering carbon,” he said.
Carbon sequestration is one way of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.
Check out our perspective on China’s climate approach from Patrick Yu, General Manager of FleishmanHillard Hong Kong, as part of our “Connecting to COP26” series.