Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the Forest event at the SEC


World leaders kick start accelerated climate action at COP26

5 minute read

  • Commitments at COP today focus on real action to limit rising temperatures, and support to SIDs and Africa to adapt to climate change
  • Collaboration on green innovation, landmark deforestation commitments, historic methane pledge on the agenda
  • Day three of COP26 answers yesterday’s calls for urgency with tangible action

The UK Prime Minister is launching an international plan to deliver clean and affordable technology everywhere by 2030 at COP26 today.

Over 40 world leaders have backed and signed up to the new Breakthrough Agenda, including the US, India, EU, China, developing economies and some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change – representing more than 70% of the world’s economy and every region.

Modelled on the UK’s landmark Net Zero Strategy, the Breakthrough Agenda will see countries and businesses coordinate and strengthen their climate action each year to dramatically scale and speed up the development and deployment of clean technologies and drive down costs this decade.

The aim is to make clean technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice for all globally in each of the most polluting sectors by 2030, particularly supporting the developing world to access the innovation and tools needed to transition to net zero.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is setting out the first five goals, the Glasgow Breakthroughs, collectively covering more than 50% of global emissions:

  • Power: Clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030.
  • Road Transport: Zero emission vehicles are the new normal and accessible, affordable, and sustainable in all regions by 2030.
  • Steel: Near-zero emission steel is the preferred choice in global markets, with efficient use and near-zero emission steel production established and growing in every region by 2030.
  • Hydrogen: Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.
  • Agriculture: Climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture is the most attractive and widely adopted option for farmers everywhere by 2030.

The plan will see countries and businesses work closely through a range of leading international initiatives to accelerate innovation and scale up green industries – this includes, for example, stimulating green investment through strong signals to industry about the future economy, aligning policies and standards, joining up R&D efforts, coordinating public investments and mobilising private finance particularly for developing nations.

Delivering the first five breakthroughs could create 20 million new jobs globally and add over $16 trillion across both emerging and advanced economies.

This comes as the PM hosts world leaders on the second day of the COP26 World Leaders Summit at a session on clean innovation and technology.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world.

The Glasgow Breakthroughs will turbocharge this forward, so that by 2030 clean technologies can be enjoyed everywhere, not only reducing emissions but also creating more jobs and greater prosperity.

The Glasgow Breakthroughs will drive forward global progress to halving emissions by 2030, which is crucial to keeping the limit to temperatures rises to 1.5C within reach, and will support the UK Presidency’s key aims to secure global action on phasing out coal and accelerating the transition to electric vehicles.

Leaders will also commit to discuss global progress every year in each sector starting in 2022 – supported by annual reports led by the International Energy Agency in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency and UN High Level Champions – with annual discussions of Ministers across government convened around the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerials. This ‘Global Checkpoint Process’ will seek to sustain and continually strengthen international cooperation across the agenda throughout this decade.

At the event today, world leaders, CEOs and philanthropists are also expected to launch a series of new initiatives in support of the Glasgow Breakthroughs, including:

  • The launch of the UK-India led Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid, endorsed by over 80 countries, to mobilise political will, finance and technical assistance needed to interconnect continents, countries and communities to the very best renewable sources of power globally to ensure no one is left without access to clean energy.
  • The launch of the Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet with an initial $10 billion of funding from philanthropies and development banks to support energy access and the clean energy transition in the Global South, in strategic partnership with the UK-led Energy Transition Council.
  • AIM4C, a new initiative led by US and UAE, with over 30 supporting countries, committed to accelerating innovation in sustainable agriculture, having already garnered $4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, including $1bn from the US.
  • The Breakthrough Energy Catalyst programme aiming to raise $3bn in concessional capital to catalyse up to $30bn of investments in bringing down clean technology costs and creating markets for green products for green hydrogen, Direct Air Capture, long-duration energy storage and sustainable aviation fuel including £200m of UK support.
  • The First Movers Coalition, a US-led buyers club of 25 major global companies making purchasing commitments to help commercialise key emerging clean technologies across sectors like steel, trucking, shipping, aviation, aluminium, concrete, chemicals, and direct air capture.

UN High-Level Climate Champions for COP25 and COP26, Gonzalo Munoz and Nigel Topping, who have been supporting the Breakthrough Agenda by driving ambitious action among the non-state actor community action and leading private sector initiatives, said:

With key private sector actors mobilising behind the breakthroughs necessary to achieve a net-zero world in time and world leaders signing up to the Breakthrough Agenda, governments across the world will help dramatically scale and speed up the race to zero emissions and deliver the promise of the Paris Agreement.

This is what the future of COP is all about – catalysing an innovative ambition loop between political leadership and the dynamism of the private sector to drive towards a resilient, prosperous zero carbon future.

Through the Net Zero strategy, the UK is leading the way in transforming these industries internationally and helping bringing down the costs of these technologies through billions of pounds of investment.

The UK’s and other countries’ investment and growth in green industries has proven costs can fall – for example by around 60% in offshore wind and around 90% in battery technology for electric vehicles in the decade to 2020. Replicating this around the world will be crucial to helping halve global emissions by 2030.

In support of this agenda, the Prime Minister yesterday launched the ‘Clean Green Initiative’ at COP26, a major funding package of £3 billion in investments and guarantees to support the rollout of sustainable infrastructure and revolutionary green technology in developing countries, helping to tackle climate change and boost economic growth.

The UK has also doubled its international climate finance of £11.6 billion over five years, with an extra £1bn in 2025 if the economy grows as forecast, supporting developing nations to access clean technology and build green infrastructure.

Notes for editors:

  • For anything urgent please call the COP26 Press Office on 0207 276 0269.
  • On power, road transport, steel, and hydrogen, countries endorsed a Breakthrough goal, the metrics by which it could be measured, and leading initiatives for international collaboration through which it could be achieved. For Agriculture, the UK has committed to working with all interested parties over the course of its Presidency year (2022) to develop similar consensus around the Breakthrough goal, the underlying metrics and the priority initiatives to support the Breakthrough. We are encouraged that the following initiatives have already expressed their willingness to work with us on this: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Global Research Alliance for Agricultural GHGs (GRA); Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA); The global agriculture research organisation known as the CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agriculture); 100 Million Farmers Initiative: Transitioning towards net-zero, nature positive food Systems; Ban-ki Moon Centre for Global Citizens.
  • The Global Methane Pledge is a US-EU led initiative launched at leaders’ level on 2 Nov at COP26. Parties signing the Pledge agree to take national-level, voluntary actions to contribute to reducing global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030, using a 2020 baseline. Scientists believe this could eliminate 0.2°C of warming by 2050. 
  • Also today, President Biden launched the First Movers Coalition, which brings together major companies from around the world to make purchasing commitments for innovative technologies in hard-to-abate sectors like heavy industry.
  • Mission Innovation, launched in Paris in 2015, will play a key role in delivering the Breakthroughs. Four new Missions will be announced during the course of COP26, including ones which will support the achievement of the industry-focused Breakthroughs. Meanwhile, Missions announced in June and co-led by the UK will contribute to the Hydrogen and Power Breakthroughs, with Innovation Roadmaps to be released later in the fortnight
  • Leaders attended a number of other high-level events throughout the day, including:
  1. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, chaired by Bangladesh, hosted an event to deliver a “Dhaka-Glasgow Declaration” of the CVF articulating the interests, efforts, and expectations of the CVF members for COP26 and beyond.
  2. India hosted a launch, with PM Modi and PM Johnson present, of a technical assistance facility for climate-resilient infrastructure aimed at Small Island Developing States.
  3. The Accelerating Africa’s Adaptation Event, convened by the DRC, AU, Global Centre on Adaptation and Ban-Ki Moon saw a number of donors and African heads of state come together to demonstrate support for African Adaptation Initiatives
  4. Ocean Panel Members met, convened by Norway and Palau, to discuss interconnected ocean and climate issues releasing a call to ‘ocean based climate action.’ 
  • The full list of signatories for the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use (as of 1030 GMT, 1 November 2021) is: Albania, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Russia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uruguay, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe