This November the UK, in partnership with Italy, will host COP26, the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference 2021. This global summit will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, and aims to accelerate action towards the achievement of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
For people and planet professionals or communications experts with an eye on the sustainability agenda, this an important event to understand for both the immediate actions of the summit and the long-term implications of plans agreed.
The conference will officially open on 31 October and more than 120 world leaders will gather in its opening days. Though it is scheduled to close on Friday 12 November, previous COP events have overrun, and it is likely that this summit will be no different.
So what happened in Paris in 2015?
For almost three decades, the UN has been bringing together the majority of the world’s countries to agree action on the climate crisis. At COP21, which took place in Paris in 2015, the Paris Agreement was created, with every country present agreeing to work collaboratively to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 as a minimum. It was also agreed that at the next COP summit, all countries would present national plans for reducing their emissions, which is certainly something to keep an eye out for during proceedings. So, what else is on the agenda for COP26?
It has since emerged that the commitments made at COP21 were insufficient to achieve the limitation of global warming, and therefore COP26 presents a momentous opportunity to agree crucial action on the climate emergency.
What needs to be achieved at COP26?
- Countries must reveal plans to secure global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
- The event will enable and encourage countries to protect and restore ecosystems.
- Countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100 billion in climate finance every year.
- Officials will finalise the Paris Rulebook and turn ambition into action.
What will be the key areas of discussion?
The nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on the 1.5 degrees goal will be a key focus for COP26, as well as securing more sign ups to a long-term net zero goal for major nations.
Three other major subjects will be on the table:
Climate finance relates to the issue of funds being provided to poorer or less developed countries in order to support them with major environmental initiatives, reducing emissions and surviving the impacts of severe weather conditions caused by climate change. Delegates will be discussing how to continue to support this and what the future of funding looks like.
Phasing out use of coal
This issue is central to the aim of staying within 1.5 degrees, and many countries are already making progress on this, including China. However, some major world players are still continuing to produce, consume and finance coal, including India, Australia and Mexico, and this needs to be addressed at COP26.
These solutions involve maintaining and restoring crucial ecosystems, including forests and wetlands, and growing more trees around the world (though the impact of this last action is debated – with experts suggesting that there is not sufficient room to grow all the trees required, and that without eliminating fossil fuels, any effects would be limited).
Nonetheless, these solutions are important as the loss of these environments has a major impact on climate change, as seen by the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil which has caused a significant loss of biodiversity. Related to this, many major countries are also chairing parallel talks on stemming biodiversity loss, restoring natural ecosystems and protecting our oceans.
How can your business make the most of COP26 and communicate it effectively?
Here are some tips from Communique’s founder, Gihan Hyde, to communications professionals ahead of COP26:
- If you or your business are participating in COP26 or looking to capitalise on the heightened interest in sustainability, then be sure to make clear in your communications why you are participating and link this to your Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) strategic objectives, purpose and values.
- Building on this, use this opportunity to explain what you hope to achieve from participating and how you’ll be adding value. It can be particularly useful to focus too on internal communications, and let employees know how they can play a role in highlighting the participation.
- If you are not engaging with COP26, you can still explain what the event means to your community or country, and what role your organisation will continue to play post-event in driving forward the people and planet agenda.
- When creating your internal communications on the event, you could also establish channels for employees to get involved via questions or comments about the summit. This is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of the summit to the organisation.
- As ever when it comes to ESG communications, be sure to tell the COP26 story in a clear concise manner that is relevant to your business. One way you might do this is by using language that is positive, enthusiastic and hopeful about the event.
Ultimately, COP26 provides a valuable opportunity to get a temperature check on how environmental goals are being put into practice, and no doubt the business world will be watching to see how the outcomes of the summit will impact the coming years of trading. Despite world leaders already conceding that the event may not cover the crucial ground initially hoped for, COP26 provides a beacon of hope for ESG principles and a reminder of their significance in the world of business today.
Show customers and investors your commitment to a better future by getting in touch with Communique today. Our global team of experts will help your business to define, translate and clarify your ESG strategy so that you can achieve your goals.
Blog written by Ally Cook, CommUnique
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