COP26 summary for businesses: everything you need to know

What is the COP26?

The COP26 (Conference of the Parties) on climate change was a particularly critical summit. Scientific data clearly shows that the world is still a long way off to meeting the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement. There is an urgent need to transition towards an economy that prioritises sustainable growth and that puts our planet and society’s well-being over short term profits. 

As well as the discussion about the pledges made at the Paris Agreement, here is a COP26 summary with some of the main aims of the conference: 

  • Secure global net zero by 2050 and keep the 1.5 degrees limit within target. Countries are being encouraged to present ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that would align with reaching net zero by 2050.
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. The climate has already changed to a large degree and will continue to do so even as we reduce our emissions, so we must protect endangered habitats.
  • Mobilise finance and secure at least £75bn in climate finance per year to support developing countries. Global financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
  • Accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society.

Why what happens in COP26 is relevant for your business

The summit was not solely for political leaders. This year, more large companies attended than ever before which is a sign of the crucial role that the private sector plays in shaping the green economy. Policies agreed at COP26 will eventually become regulations that businesses will have to comply with. Moreover, the outcomes of the conference drive consumer behaviour and stakeholder expectations. Supporting investment in new climate plans so that each nation can create and follow a plan of action will need substantial private finance.

COP26 will influence any steps you take, wherever your business happens to be in its sustainability and climate plan. 

During the summit, the UK government also called on global leaders and businesses to join the UN initiative Race to Zero, encouraging businesses, cities, regions, investors, and universities to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.  Over 5,000 companies of all sizes have already signed up, and almost half of these are in the UK private sector. 

What does COP26 mean for businesses in the UK?

By 2023, UK businesses will have to set out detailed plans for how they will move to a low-carbon future in line with the 2050 net-zero target.

Concrete steps businesses can take are:

  • Auditing the supply chain and examining the natural resources you currently use.
  • Data reporting and correct collection of sustainability data that, not only meets legal requirements, but also leads to concrete change.
  • Transparency of information and keeping the stakeholders informed. Are they aware of all elements of your approach to ESG and the company’s sustainability performance?
  • Benchmarking according to the wider industry standards that are emerging. You want to be up-to-date with and even help to influence the drive towards a greener business.
  • Finance is another key element of COP26. The plans unveiled were all about mobilising finance. Two-fifths of the world’s financial assets, £97tn, have committed to 2050 net-zero goals. Pay attention to new financial products and solutions that could benefit your business and the environment.

What else came out of COP26?

After two weeks of hard-fought negotiations, the Glasgow agreement of COP26 included rules for a global carbon market and financial commitments to help countries adapt to climate change. Additionally, national pollution policies across all sectors were agreed on, such as carbon markets and fossil fuels, hailed as progress. 

The WHO’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health outlines recommendations highlighting the need for governments to prioritise health in the worldwide development agenda for sustainability. Among the action points is the need to finance a healthier, fairer, and greener future to save lives. 

Momentous changes are happening quickly, and net-zero commitments are outpacing the formation of newer financing models. Solutions and structures need to be streamlined and efficient to facilitate the global path to decarbonization. 

Effective tracking of your ESG data and reducing time-consuming administrative tasks is key to building an organisation that prioritises sustainability. At APlanet we offer software solutions that allow you to do just that. For more information, get in touch or just request a free demo of our products: 

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