Key takeaways from COP26

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COP is very much about personal experience – with so many events to attend and learn from, so many people to talk to, and so many issues to discuss – everyone leaves Glasgow with their own unique impressions. 

To caveat, these are my personal views. Firstly, regarding negotiations, the consensus amongst policy experts seems to be that COP made some valuable technical progress, for example, on the so-called Paris Rulebook. Experts also see the explicit UN references to coal reduction as a significant gain (others might think that has taken an incredibly long time). There is also increasing pressure on countries to continually raise their ambitions through national commitments (NDCs). This is essential, given that we need to roughly double the level of existing commitments because our current trajectory means at least 2.4 degrees of warming, which would be disastrous. In summary, I see Glasgow as marking the point where the talks were more focused than ever on solutions and their implementation.   

It is worth bearing in mind that COP negotiations are not the only way to find solutions to global problems. What COP does is reaffirm the signals that negotiators have been sending to markets. I believe markets had got the message that coal’s days were numbered even before Glasgow. And they already regarded fossil fuel investments as risky. Of course, whether markets pull out of fossil fuels altogether and the rate they do so depends on many factors including, national policies. So governments need to step up to the plate with a realistic carbon price and end fossil subsidies. 

As for BCI, we continue to build on our existing relationships with the UK government and strive to increase their understanding of the use of emerging technologies like blockchain. The groundwork we have done to date provides a firm basis. But the UK government is a vast and disjointed entity, so there are challenges. We had some conversations in Glasgow that encouraged me that the relevant departments in Whitehall will engage with us further to progress on tangible actions once the dust settles on COP26. 

Secondly, developing countries have a great appetite for learning about the potential of emerging technology in the fight against climate change. We need to continue collaborating by demonstrating how we are focused on delivering benefits through capacity building for them to develop and implement solutions that are self-sustaining. 

Thirdly, we must look forward to advancing our work by the next COP in Sharm El-Sheikh next year. Our Egyptian hosts have stated their desire for a “Truly African COP” with a distinctive agenda focused on climate finance, adaptation, loss and damage. All of these issues and our well-established profile in Africa should position us well for COP27 to be the most successful one yet. 

Finally, an essential takeaway for a volunteer-led organisation such as ours: the BCI delegation at COP, and the many colleagues supporting remotely, showed great dedication and professionalism. I was impressed.  

John Kraus
Chief of Staff, BCI

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