COP 26 – what is it about?

Sweco’s CSO Mattias Goldmann summarizes how to prepare for the COP 26 and what you need to keep track of.

The COP26 UN Climate Summit will take place November 1-12th in Glasgow, that is the message from the organizers – but most likely not with the 30 000 participants that we are used to. Many countries insist that the negotiations take place physically, because difficult issues need to be dealt with face-to-face, but also due to time zones around the world and poor internet connections in part of the world. In addition, if the meeting were to be only digital, questions would arise about whether decisions could in fact be taken or not.

The negotiations focus around three areas:

  1. The Paris rulebook. Since 2015, negotiations have centered around how to codify the Paris Agreement. The main part still left to decide is Article 6, the financial mechanism for international cooperation to reduce emissions in a cost-efficient manner. Within this, issues that are particularly difficult are how to avoid double-counting, for how long emissions reductions can be used (vintage) and how climate projects can be done respecting other values (for instance tree planting on indigenous soil).
  2. Enhanced action. Every five years, all the parties (countries and the EU) that have signed the Paris Agreement are to enhance/increase their climate pledges. We are currently in the first enhancement period, and most major economies have already committed to strengthening their targets, while others use the COP to present their revised targets.
  3. Green finance. International funding for climate actions from the developed world to developing countries was to reach USD 100 billion per year from 2020. By most accounts, the actual sum is somewhere between 40 and 80 billion USD, and the way forward is far from clear. Linked to this is how the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund are to be run and funded in the future. “Show me the money” will, as often before, be key to reach an agreement.

Prior to the climate summit, there will be virtual a UN Climate Change Conference technical pre-meeting for the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies, 31 May – 17 June 2021. There are also ongoing, important bilateral negotiations and preparations between US-China, EU-India, EU-China and others. The G7 in June, the G20 just prior to COP and the UN General assembly opening September are all expected to have a strong climate focus, as well as the COP15 for biodiversity, to be held in Kunming, China, October 11-24th.

Leading up to the formal negotiations, the UK COP presidency is focusing on five key areas where stronger support from the parties is particularly needed; the switch to sustainable energy, transport, climate adaptation and resilience, nature based solutions and finance (Sweden participates in the two first).

Other relevant working groups include

  • The former COP presidency of Chile has been leading a group developing 6 principles for ministers of finance, with Indonesia etc, with the Swedish Minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson as chair for the meetings.
  • The Leadership Group for Industry Transition, industryfortransition.org, and the heavy industry (steel, cement etc) working group holds a LeadIt summit at the same time as the COP.
  • Call on Carbon, founded by Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish business associations and backed by the ICC is calling for a robust price on carbon, www.calloncarbon.com

How to prepare and where to look

Climate negotiations may seem too technical and detailed to be of business relevance – but most companies will agree that the Paris Agreement is highly relevant, and thus the clarifications that come out of the COP26 will be great to keep track of. This is also true for the enhanced action climate plans; what’s in there spells business opportunities for sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, forestry and industry – most of us!

Understanding that it will be difficult to keep track of everything that is happening, Sweco and myself will strive to give brief updates such as this one. Return here regularly, and have a look at

Mattias Goldmann, Chief Sustainability Officer at Sweco