Welcome to the latest edition of our COP26 countdown newsletter. On 1-12 November this year, the UK and Italy will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
There are opportunities for your firm to make the most of the Summit. For details on how Instinctif can help you navigate and benefit from COP26, do take a look at our guides for the UK and the EU. For more information, please email Brandon.Mitchener@instinctif.com. The below update is the combined effort of both the London and Brussels public policy offices.
NGOs urge Slovenia’s minister to propose EU exit Energy Charter Treaty
• Environmental NGOs in Slovenia have called on the county’s infrastructure minister Jernej Vrtovec to use the EU presidency to propose a political discussion on the bloc exiting the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) at an energy ministers’ meeting in September.
• The call comes after more than 400 European civil society organisations called on EU leaders to stick to their climate change promises, prioritise climate policies and exit the ECT. “The Energy Charter Treaty is an obstacle in the transition to clean energy, which is why it is high time to exit it,” according to a press release from the NGO Umanotera.
• It added that “If we want to prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis, we need to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, countries … that have started abandoning fossil fuels remain captives of fossil industry”.
• Andrej Gnezda of Umanotera also noted that “Although it may seem unbelievable, the question of how long we will be hostages of fossil industry currently depends mostly on Slovenia as the presiding country of the Council of the EU”.
Top court rules Energy Charter Treaty cannot be used in intra-EU disputes
• The international treaty used by polluting energy companies to claim compensation from governments for thwarting their investments has been ruled incompatible with EU law by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
• Under the treaty, companies can attempt to claim millions in compensation at the expense of taxpayers through a private arbitration mechanism called an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), but the Court noted that “the preservation of the autonomy and specific character of EU law precludes the Energy Charter Treaty from being able to impose the same obligations on the Member States among themselves.”
• Environmental campaigners applauded the ruling, noting that “given the scale of the climate crisis, it’s not only abhorrent that EU companies have used the Energy Charter Treaty to claim compensation, but it’s now confirmed that it’s also illegal”.
• They also added that “legally it’s the end of the Energy Charter Treaty” and it is now up to EU countries to use this decision to defend themselves.
EU urges all major economies to increase efforts to combat climate change
• The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell is calling upon all major economies to increase efforts to combat climate change.
• Borrell in a blog post stated that “with its major geopolitical implications, climate change is the single, most threatening security issue ever in human history and that it is essential that all countries strengthen their commitments and increase their efforts before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow next November”.
• He noted that the challenge of COP26 is to make sure that all major economies take ambitious enough, measurable and verifiable 2030 targets and climate neutrality commitments and that the “EU is now also walking the talk with the ‘Fit for 55’ package, a set of thirteen legislative proposals to deliver the emission cuts aimed for, that the European Commission has put forward last July. Given that we represent only 8 % of global emissions, the EU wishes to assume leadership by example, with policy proposals able to inspire others to become equally ambitious and undertake similar structural economic transformation as embodied in our green deal”.
• He also added that climate change is “the most decisive issue of our time” and that “a just transition to a decarbonised world is also key to limit geopolitical tensions between countries…”
BRICS nations join India to oppose EU carbon tax
• BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa) nations have aligned themselves with India to oppose the EU’s proposed carbon border tax which aims to impose imports tax on carbon-intensive goods, calling it “discriminatory”.
• In a ‘New Delhi statement on environment’ the bloc members expressed concerns over the EU’s move and pledged to cooperate with each other and take joint stands at multilateral forums.
• The Group also decided to jointly work on reducing and controlling water and air pollution, adding that “the year 2021 is a crucial year not only for the BRICS but also for the whole world as we have the UN biodiversity conference … and climate change conference … where BRICS countries can play a very significant role in addressing the contemporary global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, marine plastic litter, etc”.
• The Group also spoke of sharing experiences of best practices and collaboration between members in areas of uniformity of methods for air quality data generation, quality control and assurance, cleaner technology, among others.
Cingolani says environmental activist worse than climate crisis
• Italian Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani in a speech at the political training school of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party, Italia Viva, said that “the world is full of radical chic environmentalists, and it is full of extremist, ideological environmentalists: they are worse than the climate catastrophe”.
• Cingolani said some environmentalists are part of the problem, adding that “I hope you remain open to a non-ideological confrontation, that you look at the numbers. If you don’t look at the numbers, you risk getting hurt like never before”.
• He stated is his speech that the ecological transition “must be sustainable,” otherwise “we do not die of pollution but of starvation.”
• He also noted that “we need a transition with decarbonisation and a brake on CO2 production, but the process must give society time to adapt to these transformations,” adding that closing car factories to reduce CO2 from tomorrow would leave “thousands of families on the streets.”.
IPCC’s climate report alarming says Di Maio
• Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that the latest report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was “alarming” and that the world had no more time to waste to tackle the climate crisis.
• The report warned that human activity was altering the Earth’s climate in ways that are “unprecedented” for thousands of years, adding that some changes were now inevitable and irreversible. It also said temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5° above pre-industrial levels within two decades, breaching the target set by international community.
• Di Maio added that “an alarming picture emerges from the latest UN report on the climate,” adding it is “it is an issue that regards all of us and every aspect of our lives”. He also stated that “it is necessary to provide an effective response, without wasting time”.
• He also announced that the Italian government will appoint a special climate envoy to represent Italy at international talks on climate issues, following the leads of the USA, Britain, France and Germany.
UK calls for greater global ambition as UN finds world warming faster than previously estimated:
• On the 9th of August, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on the science of climate change which warned that the world will likely reach 1.5 degrees warming in the following decade or two unless governments take immediate action.
• The report says that this temperature rise comes at a much faster rate than previous predictions, and is a cause for major international concern. Scientists claim this is due to increasingly damaging human practices.
• The report further warns that all regions of the planet have been somewhat affected by rising temperatures, and that problems related to climate change will continue to grow if immediate action is not taken. Recent examples cited include: wildfires in North America; floods in China, across Europe, India and parts of Africa; and heatwaves in Siberia.
• In response to the report, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the international community to leave non-renewable and environmentally damaging energy resources in the past and make the permanent shift to green, renewable energy.
• The PM also raised the UK’s efforts in curbing carbon emissions, saying “the UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades…”.
• As part of COP26, COP President Alok Sharma is in negotiations with governments and businesses “to increase global climate ambition and take immediate action” to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.
• Reacting to the IPCC’s report, Sharma has directed COP26 to “send(ing) a clear market signal to get the transition moving faster.” This will be an economic effort to mobilise billions of promised dollars towards climate emergency relief and helping developing countries invest in green technologies.
• Alok Sharma visited Brazil on the 11th of August to talk with the Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão and ministers about their success in implementing COP26 goals. In Brazil, the main targets are reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030. Sharma hosted events and meetings with Brazilian representatives to talk about their net-zero targets and strategies.
• On the 16th of August, Sharma visited India, where he discussed collaboration efforts in reaching net-zero carbon emissions. He spoke with senior Indian ministers and leaders from industry and civil society about achieving a global position in COP26 through profiling their ambitious domestic policies. As Sharma prepares for COP26, the UK and India are engaging in partnerships to reduce carbon emissions through green investments and activities in the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and the Green Growth Equity Fund.
• As Boris Johnson pushes for COP26 to be in-person, a COP26 official stated that specific arrangements to Britain’s traffic light system will be made to ensure as many international delegates can attend. This includes “a reduced quarantine period of five days for vaccinated individuals from red list countries” and “no requirement for self-isolation on arrival to the UK for those coming from amber or green list countries whether vaccinated or not”. While met with some criticism, COP26 officials hope these arrangements will balance easing travel restrictions for delegates and protecting attendees from possible COVID-19 outbreaks.
• The Queen has been confirmed as attending COP26 in November. Her presence is seen by many as a sign of the UK’s commitment to the event.
• Glasgow City Council has published eligibility requirements for companies who want to book venues during COP26 to ensure the conference is not helping entities “who deny, ignore or willfully contribute to catastrophic climate change for the duration of COP26”. These requirements include asking that the company must have “…set science-based targets for reducing emissions … or have joined the UN’s Race to Zero Campaign.” The Council hopes that this move will limited access to the conference to firms who have committed to hard net zero targets.
• Environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg has said that Scotland is not a world leader in tackling climate change, claiming no country in the “Global North” is taking as much action as is required by current climate change trends. Thunberg said she is waiting to see if COP26 attendance is “safe and democratic” – noting that delegates from developing countries may not have adequate vaccine access, therefore limiting their ability to travel to Scotland and represent their delegation at the conference.
• Business Secretary Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP has claimed that green heating technology is in its infancy. He said that while gas boilers had been “refined over many years…heat pumps are still in their infancy”. The Minister said that investment over the coming years would improve green heat technology and make it more accessible to consumers.