COP26 climate change actions

In this article we discuss COP26, climate change and the actions and commitments we have made.

As the news headlines have focused on COP26 and the achievements of this conference, opinions may be divided on its success. CGIUKI is a signatory to the Charter for Climate Action, a coalition of professional bodies who have come together to promote solutions to the problems of climate change and to consider how we support real, and accountable change.

The stakes are high. The UN Climate change synthesis report published in October analysing government commitments from the signatories to the Paris Agreement stated we are on track for a 2.7 degree rise in temperatures over the century. The key goals of COP26 are to keep the focus on limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. It has also been on supporting countries most affected already by climate change to adapt, and there has been much discussion on how to finance this, the third key goal of the conference. Access to finance is key. While the £100bn promised to support change is now in touching distance, access is also key with many projects based in communities that struggle to access finance for their interventions.

Lastly, the fourth goal of the conference is to consider the role of collaboration to deliver the changes aspired to; collaboration across governments, NGOs and across business sectors.

One optimistic achievement has been the progress in halting deforestation. Signatories from 119 countries together are responsible for 88% of the entire landmass of the world. We have also seen agreement on methane targets.

While government may set targets and policies, businesses are critical to how this will be delivered in practice. Race to Zero, the global campaign to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, now has 5231 businesses signed up and committed to planning and reporting on their progress,  a 700% increase since June 2020. These already include 60 of the UK’s FTSE 100.

We know younger people are especially concerned and committed to climate change issues. As a membership body and an educator, we have a role to play to ensure our members have the right level of understanding and training, whether starting out as students or through our CPD training, our conferences and our guidance. There are complex issues to resolve in practice, not least how heavy carbon-emitting industries are encouraged to transition their corporate purpose towards lowering their emissions. The skills involved in setting up an oil platform in the north sea might be really quite useful when building offshore wind farms.

There were many promises made as part of the Paris Agreement. To have a lasting impact, COP26 needs clear, measurable progress reported in a manner that is sufficiently transparent to be accountable. Governance has a key role to play.

As your Institute, we also need to be accountable for our practice. To ensure we can support you, we signed up for the professional membership-driven Charter for Climate Action. With 400 professional bodies in the UK alone and 13 million members, we can be part of a powerful voice with very broad expertise. 

Our commitments are available to see here. Key amongst these is ensuring we understand and meet your sustainability and resource needs.

To drive this forward we would like to hear your ideas and thoughts on how the role and application of good governance practice can drive change and ensure transparency in how business and other sectors deliver on their goals and that auditing progress and regulation of practice is appropriate and balanced.

If you would like to be part of the discussion please get in touch at policy@cgi.org.uk.

David Mortimer, Head of External Affairs, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland

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