Will climate summit be a fair COP for all?

This weekend the build up to what has been described as the last chance saloon for the planet to combat global warming will come to an end, writes Jon Guy.

COP26 in Glasgow has been viewed as the summit in which the world finally comes together to agree a path to net zero by 2050 and in doing so limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

For two years the talk has been bullish and politicians have been saying Glasgow will be viewed by future generations as the place in which the tide of climate change was turned.

Certainly the insurance industry has been keen to ensure it has been at the forefront of the private sector’s response and the week ahead is set to see a number of underwriters and brokers have their say in and around the summit.

However, in the past week the sleek and no doubt net zero COP26 bullet train has started to resemble a diesel locomotive.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend, and there is still uncertainty over whether Chinese president Xi Jinping will make an appearance. It comes hot in the heels of both Russia and Saudi Arabia announcing they will look to achieve net zero economies by 2060.

It adds up to two of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters announcing they will fail to meet the current 2050 net zero target at a time when the talk was that the key aim of COP26 was to bring the 2050 target forward to 2045 and even 2040.

It also means that the world’s most energy hungry economy, and one that relies heavily on coal fired power, is likely not to be at the table and therefore will not sign up to any agreement reached.

In the US the Biden regime immediately re-joined the Paris climate accord following its departure under President Trump, with President Biden saying he wanted the US to be at the heart of the world’s climate efforts. While the rhetoric may have increased there is trouble at home with the US energy industry less than impressed with plans to green up the US economy.

This week a major study found that Americans would be happy to pay a climate tax to fund efforts to combat global warming, as long as it wasn’t too much. However, when asked whether they would be happy to fund the efforts of the world’s poorest economies to transition to net zero over half said they would not want to.

The aims set out on the COP26 website for the event make it clear: “To deliver on our first two goals, (Net zero by 2050 and to protect communities and natural habitats) developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020.”

The first annual $100 billion payment is three years overdue and with COVID still impacting supply chains, and with it economies, the appetite to fund international efforts has lessened.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed the current forecasts are developed countries “will make significant progress” towards the annual $100 billion goal in 2022 after missing it in 2020 and 2021. Progress yes but the OECD also said it would be delivered until 2023.

The second part of the summit’s third aim reads: “International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.”

With public opinion happy to look to the finance of domestic efforts but reluctant to support emerging economies and the developed nation’s not likely to come up with the first of its $100 billion per year support programme until 2023, it is becoming increasingly likely the burden may fall on the “trillions” that need to be unlocked in the private sector.

This week a major study found that Americans would be happy to pay a climate tax to fund efforts to combat global warming, as long as it wasn’t too much. However, when asked whether they would be happy to fund the efforts of the world’s poorest economies to transition to net zero over half said they would not want to.

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