Skip to content

COP26, should we pay attention now?

Ok so as said by the wonderful Julie Andrews, let’s start at the very beginning.

COP or Conference of the Parties is, although a rotten title for explaining what is happening, the largest, most important and influential meeting on Climate Change which occurs. It brings together the most powerful people, usually annually, although last years was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year it is the 26th conference, hence COP26, and it will go ahead, in Glasgow UK between the 1st and 12th November.

It has had a lot of press coverage as it is seen to be the one place where the leaders of most countries are brought together to work collaboratively and address the climate emergency. The importance of these conferences cannot be understated. The “Paris Agreement” came out of COP21 in Paris and committed 196 countries to keep a global average temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius”. The number may seem arbitrary and small but in ensuring this reduction scientists believe it will sustain a safe level in which all living things on Earth can survive.

So, Paris, or COP21, gave some dramatic results, but that was the conference back in 2015, so what has changed since then? Well, the simple and quick answer is not enough. There is still no resolution on how to help poorer countries cut emissions. There has also been a smaller than anticipated movement to renewable energy sources and the increase of extreme events such as increased flooding in Germany, drought in Madagascar or the extreme summer heat seen in Canada, has only increased the eyes looking to COP26 for real targets.

These targets however need to deliver real commitments, real targets and real costs to countries who are not signatories or as Prince Charles has stated “if we don’t make the decisions that are vital now, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch up”.

It is now looking likely Scott Morrison has been adequately lambasted into appearing at the conference. His shirkyness was highly likely to Australia still not submitting any long-term climate action proposals. The governments rhetoric of “practical solutions” and a loose interpretation of Paris, which incidentally is not enforceable in Australian law, is placing Australia at the naughty countries table!

Yet with major support for 2050 net zero targets coming from all corners, including most recently the Mineral Council of Australia, could the business industry support be the straw that breaks the coalitions back.

Scott Morrison must now balance an international government and domestic business desire to be net-zero and set significant targets to achieve this, with his own coalition especially those from the Nationals vehemently against a net-zero target and even pushing for the ambitions to have a pause button inserted into any legislation if there is a detrimental affect to regional communities.

This was never going to be an easy line to walk but with mounting pressure from all sides, the time for the government to jump off the fence is fast approaching.

Ultimately yes this is going to be one to watch as there will inevitably be ripples, regardless of Scott Morrison’s next move.

Article written by Kate Turner Senior Manager Markets, Analytics & Sustainability