FleishmanHillard COP26 Daily Digest, Day 12: Thursday 11th November 2021
Late on Wednesday, China and the United States announced a new agreement to cooperate on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, including cutting methane and emissions from high-impact areas like transport and energy. The unexpected collaboration by the world’s two largest emitting nations, after critical comments from both sides both before and during COP26, is significant on its own and could inspire other countries to follow suit.
With Wednesday marked as Transport Day, several leading automakers and more than two dozen countries committed to producing only zero-emissions vehicles by 2040. Signatories include General Motors, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and BYD, though the deal failed to get backing from the United States, China, Germany and several of the largest automakers, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan-Renault and Hyundai-Kia.
Today’s ‘Connecting to COP26’ perspective comes from Colin Hart, Vice President at FleishmanHillard New York and explores the role of the American private sector in driving climate action, including whether greenwashing risks becoming the new climate change denial.
CHINA AND UNITED STATES CLIMATE AGREEMENT FUELS OPTIMISM | COP26 Daily Digest, Day 12
Plans announced by China and the United States to work together on cutting greenhouse gas emissions took delegates by surprise late Wednesday and provided the summit with a rare moment of optimism.
The joint declaration from the world’s two largest economies – and biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses – pointed to cooperation on several critical areas, including cutting methane and emissions from transport, energy, and industry.
The news came after a protracted war of words between the two nations during COP26. But China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua told reporters that “there is more agreement between China and U.S. than divergence” on climate change.
Campaigners and advocates hope the announcement will inspire other countries to go above and beyond their current pledges. In particular, they will look to other high emitters like India and Russia to take bolder action.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, welcomed the agreement on Twitter: “Tackling the climate crisis requires international cooperation and solidarity, and this is an important step in the right direction.”
BIG PROGRESS BUT BUMPY ROAD AHEAD FOR DECARBONISING TRANSPORT | COP26 Daily Digest, Day 12
Plans to end emissions from new cars and vans by 2040 were welcomed as a significant step toward decarbonising the automotive industry on Transport Day in Glasgow. Transport accounts for 21% of global carbon emissions.
The agreement signed by 24 governments and several major automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BYD and Jaguar Land Rover, commits them to stop the sale of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2040 or earlier.
But the celebrations were tempered by several large automakers, such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan-Renault and Hyundai-Kia, and many of the major automotive markets, including the United States, China, Germany, South Korea, and Japan, refusing to sign.
Some are also concerned that the world is too focused on electric cars, and that bikes and walking didn’t figure on the Transport Day agenda at all. The Sustainable Transport Alliance (STA) has cautioned against solely prioritising electric vehicles (EV) to reduce harmful emissions.
They say a major climate goal should be to reduce traffic and shift towards public and community transport, walking, cycling, and shared mobility.
Meanwhile, fifteen countries agreed to a separate pledge to work toward 100% sales of zero-emissions new trucks and buses by 2040. In the UK, all new HGVs will now have to be zero emissions by 2040, while new trucks of 26 tonnes and under must be net zero by 2035.
BORIS JOHNSON CALLS FOR MORE AMBITION IN COP AGREEMENT TEXT | COP26 Daily Digest, Day 12
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to Glasgow Wednesday to urge global governments to “be more ambitious” with better, more credible plans for implementation.
“We have to bridge the gap between where we are and where we need to be if we’re going to cut emissions in half by 2030,” he told the conference. “And we need to pull out all the stops if we’re going to do what we came here to do, and that’s keep 1.5 alive and make Paris the success the world needs it to be.”
He spoke on the day the draft text of the COP26 outcomes was published, including the potential for countries to return to the negotiating table with enhanced proposals at COP27, which will be hosted by Egypt.
But some countries say there is not enough emphasis on climate finance, and the language of the text is too weak.
Aubrey Webson, chair of the Alliance of Small Islands States, which represents 37 of the most at-risk countries, said: “The text provides a basis for moving forward, but it needs to be strengthened in key areas in order to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly on finance… and this includes the long-overdue recognition of a separate and additional component for loss and damage.”
He added that words such as ‘urging’, ‘calling’, ‘encouraging’ and ‘inviting’ were not the decisive language that this moment calls for.
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