What happened on each day at COP26?

By Ilkka Saarinen

The Presidency Programme at COP26 separated topics into each specific day where delegates announced, discussed and debated different measures required to meet the COP26 goals.

Below you will find a short description into the importance of each topic in tackling our collective climate action goals as well as a summary of the announcements made.

  1. Finance Day – Wednesday November 3rd

Channelling both public and private finance is arguably one of the most important shifts we need and most powerful mechanisms we can leverage to scale up efforts sufficient to keep us on track for our climate targets. The big announcements from Finance day:

  1. Energy Day– Thursday November 4th

The energy system contributes around a quarter of the world’s GHG emissions. The key challenges are interlinked and threefold, to do with how we meet 1) the environmental sustainability of the energy sector i.e. by transition as fast as possible to renewable energy while at the same time 2) ensuring energy security for the globe so our lights stay on and industry keeps humming, all while 3) attaining energy equity so the cost of energy stays affordable for the masses and does not create unwanted economic burdens on people. Below are some announcements from Energy day:

  • A ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’ was signed by more than 40 countries covering more coal capacity than the currently in the US or India. This aim of this is to rapidly scale up the development of clean power and transition away from coal power generation in the 2030s for major economies and in the 2040s globally.
  • The COP26 Product Efficiency Call to Action was spearheaded by the UK Government and the IEA to double efficiency of key internationally traded products by 2030 to reduce consumers’ energy bills and curb GHG emissions.
  • The UK Government set up the Energy Transition Council (ETC) to enable effective dialogue between countries that require support for the energy transition, and those offering support. Since March 2021, the ETC have responded to 24 requests on a wide range of policy areas and committed funding of almost £10 mil to support energy efficiency, grid infrastructure and energy planning of countries in need.
  1. Nature Day – Saturday November 6th

The natural environment regulates life on earth through the functioning of ecosystems such as oceans and forests. This is because nature plays a vital role in absorbing Earth’s carbon emissions through carbon sequestration and sinks. Currently nature and biodiversity are significantly depleted and degraded with 50% of forests lost in the 20th century. Biodiversity provides ecosystems for life on Earth and the depletion of this undermines the crucial services such as food, water, as well as cultural and spiritual needs beneficial to our wellbeing. Some announcements made on Nature day include:

  1. Adaptation, Loss & Damage Day – Monday November 8th

Currently, global temperatures have increased by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times with more warming to come. This means that we will inevitably have to ensure adaptation measures are taken to limit the harms to our natural and social environments. With this comes the social element across developing countries in particular, as those who are most susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change are in many cases the ones who contribute least to causing the rise in emissions. Adaptation will require capacity-building to ensure people’s livelihoods can continue into the future – and the transition needs to be equitable and just to those most vulnerable. Adaptation, Loss and Damage day had announcements such as:

  1. Gender Day – Tuesday November 9th

Climate change has a significant negative impact on those sections of the population that are most reliant on the natural environment for services and livelihoods while at the same time having the least capacity to respond to climatic events such as extreme weather, flooding and drought. Educating women across the global can play a significant role in limiting global warming. In doing so, this can allow for more equal and equitable participation in decision-making processes and drive political and business roles from the local to the international level. The Gender and Science & Innovation day had announcements including:

  1. Transport Day – Wednesday November 10th

The transportation sector contributes around a quarter of global emissions. A key determinant of decarbonising the transportation sector includes improving fuel efficiency, scaling up electrification, and producing renewable alternative fuels – all while ensuring equity and security for users. In doing so lies various challenges largely due to the significant role that transportation plays in how and where people live, work, and play. Below are some announcements from Transport day:

  1. Cities, Regions and the Built Environment Day– Thursday November 11th

Most people worldwide live in cities, which remain the economic and cultural hubs that dominate our modern world. As a result of our dependence on cities, the built environment contributes approximately 39% of global emissions due to the demands of our existing residential and commercial needs (think heating, cooling, and lighting) as well as the materials required to build new buildings and the embodied carbon that comes as a result. See below for announcements on Cities, Regions and the Built Environment day:

Sancroft works together with a wide range of businesses across a breadth of sectors to tackle sustainability issues such as climate change and decarbonisation. If you would like to find out how we provide bespoke expert sustainability guidance to your business, please contact Ilkka.Saarinen@sancroft.com or Felix.Gummer@Sancroft.com.