The road to COP26

By Sophie Duley, Account Executive

As host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November, the UK Government is under tremendous pressure, not only to deliver a successful conference and provide global climate diplomacy, but to set a compelling example of how to effectively implement a comprehensive and credible green agenda. There is no doubt that the prospects of the UK’s presidency of the UN Climate Change Conference have been bolstered by the election of Joe Biden – as well as by China’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060 – yet the considerable challenge of achieving both national and international success remains.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson galvanised the UK’s own climate ambition towards the end of last year when he announced his Ten Point Plan, mobilising £12bn worth of funding for a “green industrial revolution”. This encompassed a variety of key areas, from hydrogen to biodiversity, and included plans to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by phasing out all petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Johnson’s green credentials were enhanced further by the publication of the long-awaited Energy White Paper before Christmas, marking a significant step forward as the Government examines the roadmap for the implementation and delivery of these policies in 2021.

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that by 2025 it will be mandatory for UK firms to make disclosures recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), enhancing the credibility of the UK’s green finance agenda: one of the key aims for COP26.

In the past 12 months alone, the number of corporates aligning climate disclosure with the recommendations of the TCFD has grown exponentially. However, the most recent decision to move Alok Sharma from his position as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to a full-time role as COP26 President is the most significant move, serving as an explicit acknowledgement that work in this area will only increase.

The UK’s Net Zero Business Champion, Andrew Griffith MP, is encouraging UK businesses of all sizes to set science-based climate targets, expressing a clear interest in showcasing the world-leading green expertise, products, and services that the UK can offer. Demonstrations of a ‘climate conscience’ are no longer simply desirable – it has become imperative. As we recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and political attention focuses on how we ‘build back better’, organisations must embrace the green agenda at pace, or risk being left behind.

COP26 offers a real opportunity to highlight leadership and innovation across this area, not only to benefit society but to drive strong business performance and set out a defined pathway to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Cicero/AMO has been preparing clients for the 26th Conference of the Parties ever since it was announced that the UK would be hosting the conference in September 2019. The postponement to 2021 enabled us to introduce clients to the COP26 team in the Cabinet Office, advise on sponsorship opportunities and recommend venues for fringe events in Glasgow. Importantly, multiple conversations across different sectors with senior stakeholders revealed that Glasgow will be their first-ever COP. Therefore, we will shortly be publishing a primer on how to navigate your inaugural UN climate change conference.

For more information about sustainability or COP 26, please contact a member of the team below.

This piece first appeared in Cicero/AMO’s February news and insights update – click here to access our full update.

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Sophie Duley

Account Executive