As plenty of observers have noted, delaying COP26 until mid-2021 provides the UK and the UN with several opportunities. Firstly, it gives the UK the time to correct the somewhat scattergun organisation that has taken place to date and pull more heavyhitters into its COP26 team. Secondly, the IPCC is due to publish its next major report last year and – although the timetable for this critical research may also be forced to slip a little – judging by the huge impact its analysis of the risks that come with just 1.5C of warming had it could yet play a major role in galvanising global action. Third, given the UK is set to host the G7 Summit next summer and COP26 co-host Italy is to host the G20, that diplomatic choreography should push climate change up the agenda. And fourth, everyone will know by then whether the Paris Agreement progresses in spite of a second term Trump Presidency or with vocal backing from a new US President touting his pledge to fully decarbonise the world’s most influential economy. Most of all though, barring absolute catastrophe (and sadly that can’t be ruled out) the global focus once the worst of the pandemic has passed will inevitably shift towards questions of recovery and resilience. There should be a new humility in our collective understanding of long-tail risks, human interconnectedness, and environmental limits. As the UN, the IEA, and countless political and businesses leaders have already noted, the case for a recovery that rejuvenates frayed institutions, tackles catastrophic risks, foregrounds the ties between our environment and our health, and drives investment in clean 21st century infrastructure is as obvious as it is compelling.
Business Green 2nd April 2020 read more »