IEMA's Press Advisor André Farrar rounds up some of the happenings from COP26 so far, as IEMA have been attending and speaking.

IEMA's CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE and Nick Blyth at ISO event at COP26

We’ve been clear about what we expect to see coming out of this vital climate conference in Glasgow, we want to see climate leadership at all levels and that this should be manifested in Governments implementing the policy frameworks and strategic approaches which are needed to support certainty and give confidence for organisations to invest and transition. Ultimately fixing the climate emergency must be embedded as a mainstream business issue. For this to happen reporting and disclosure with increasing transparency on climate performance is critical to success.

Part of the value of mega-conferences such as COP26 is that they create a melting pot of opinion and experience. Our CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, has certainly valued the opportunity to engage with IEMA members from across the world. But critics of the Glasgow summit are concerned that access to the discussions is overly limited and is excluding many of the very voices most affected by the climate emergency. Already operating under unprecedented constraints brought about by the COVID pandemic, it is vital that the legitimacy of the COP process and the eventual outcomes are not fundamentally undermined by a lack of transparency and ultimately trust.

Sarah spoke at ISO’s event ‘Building back a Net Zero resilient economy’ alongside IEMA’s Policy and Engagement Lead Nick Blyth. A key message was that ‘we need to be speaking with, not to, communities for progress to a cleaner and more sustainable world’.

Sarah also focused on a key priority for IEMA – building a workforce skilled to meet the climate and environmental challenges we face. ‘It is imperative that sustainability is embedded in all parts of the existing and future workforce, to make all jobs greener and truly make headway with climate goals’.

In week two of COP26, our attention moves to transport and Sarah will be speaking at Scania’s Net Zero Transport Conference on ‘Net Zero UK - beyond COP26’.

If week one was about enhanced pledges made on the world stage – week two must be about how they are to be delivered. While welcome, net zero finance pledges and promises to step up mean nothing unless backed by alignment of every part of economies around the world.

IEMA’s Director of Policy and External Affairs, Marin Baxter, is clear ‘Ambition without action is meaningless. You can set as many targets as you like, but you have to do the hard work of developing plans with a governance framework to deliver it’.

With a week to go there is a massive hill to climb to keep our world within safe climate limits with a deal that can hope to deliver a realistic 1.5°C rise in global temperatures. It is too early for optimism, even cautious optimism, unless COP26 can drive rapid progress in underlying policy mechanisms and investment – the failure of developed countries even to deliver on commitments to $100bn a year for loss and damage support is a clear signal that progress is too slow and too limited. Good COP or bad COP? We will soon know the judgement of history on Glasgow’s pivotal climate conference.


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