On Adaptation & Agriculture Day at COP27, the UK COP26 Presidency’s official Side Event was co-hosted with Climate Group, who are the Secretariat of the Under2 Coalition.
We convened a discussion about the ways in which multilevel action can drive the ‘ambition loop’ to keep 1.5°C in reach and deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact.
COP26 President Opening Speech
COP26 President Alok Sharma opened the event, and paid testament to the power of the ‘ambition loop’: a ‘virtuous circle’ where multilevel actors from business, government and civil society drive climate action and in doing so push each other to go further, faster.
He paid tribute to the role of civil society and youth, and the work of the High-Level Champions, saying that the Glasgow Climate Pact was “a testament to what is possible when all of us work together with one ambition”.
The COP26 President also made clear that while progress has been made in the acceleration of renewables – despite a challenging geopolitical context – recent and severe droughts in China, the US and Europe were a reminder of the need to act now at both government and corporate levels to keep 1.5°C in reach.
First panel: The ambition loop in action
The first panel, moderated by Helen Clarkson, CEO of Climate Group, showcased the ambition loop in action across the world through its four high-level panellists:
- Faustin Munyazikwiye, Rwanda’s Chief Negotiator and Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority;
- Eduardo Trani, Undersecretary for the Environment, São Paulo State;
- Secretary Karen Ross, Secretary for Food and Agriculture, California;
- Prabodha Acharya, Chief Sustainability Officer, JSW Group.
Each panellist highlighted the importance of bringing together subnational actors around a shared agenda, along with civil society and private sector organisations, to develop inclusive and equitable solutions to reducing emissions. Eduardo Trani from Sao Paulo highlighted their newly launched Climate Action Plan 2050, which was open for consultation from civil society to identify 1.5-aligned actions for the Municipality of São Paulo.
Secretary Ross and Faustin Munyazikwiye both spoke about the value of financial incentives and quality investments to drive action at an industry level. In California, for example, the state government has successfully supported its dairy industry with ‘dairy digester’ projects to capture methane emissions and convert them into renewable energy. This is part of an overall aim to reduce methane emissions – a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas – 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Meanwhile Rwanda has established fiscal incentives for zero-emission vehicles and has recently launched Ireme Invest: a new green finance facility to drive quality green investments.
Prabodha Acharya of JSW Group was emphatic about the need to act ‘here and now’ to reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors such as steel and concrete. This requires businesses to move away from a focus on short-term gains and expand their horizons to longer term planning. Such a culture change will demand considerable commitment from company leadership but will reap long term rewards for both profits and the climate.
Second panel: Role of data in raising awareness & driving accountability
The second panel, chaired by Lekha Sridhar of ClimateTRACE, explored the role of data in raising awareness of climate issues and driving accountability. It consisted of:
- Amaia Barredo, Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Government of the Basque Country;
- Samanta Della Bella, Sustainability and Climate Superintendent, Government of Pernambuco;
- Sassan Saatchi, PhD, CTrees Founder and NASA research scientist.
Despite a number of challenges with data accessibility and deployability, particularly for monitoring emissions, the panel agreed that continuing technological advances are already helping to drive progress.
They cited the Under2 Coalition’s ongoing States and Regions Remote Sensing project (STARRS), which is working with governments to identify highly-polluting sectors with a view to then reducing their emissions. Dr Saatchi highlighted the broader use of data in monitoring wildfires, deforestation and land degradation, and was optimistic about the evolution and increasing accessibility of the technology in this field.
Overall, the panel was clear that by expanding access to data, and making emissions tracking integral to the way multilevel actors assess and act upon damaging emissions, we can scale the use of specific technologies to raise, and implement, climate action.
Without measuring emissions it is not possible to mitigate them.
Helen Clarkson closed the event with a final word on the importance of COP27 demonstrating progress on last year. Although impressive commitments were made, it is now time to show meaningful progress – particularly in terms of using the Glasgow Climate Pact as a blueprint for real action in reducing emissions and accelerating the move to renewables.
Together, both panels were testament to the ambitious action being driven across different levels of government and industry around the world, and the growing opportunities that lie ahead for those who act now.
As Alok Sharma, COP26 President, said: ‘We all need to be part of this solution and, if we are, we will get there’.