Skip to main content

Countdown to COP

By Sophie Morello
14 October 2021

By Sophie Morello

Biodiversity loss was a major theme this week as the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) took place. The summit has been beset by delays due to Covid and the critical, decision-making element, where targets are set and agreed, won’t take place until Spring 2022. So while no big commitments to protect biodiversity loss were announced this week, we have seen very impactful research setting out the scale of the crisis, which will hopefully spur on the creation of meaningful targets ahead of the final part of the summit next year.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum revealed that the UK has lost more of its natural biodiversity than any of the G7 nations and with only 53% of biodiversity left, it is in the bottom 10% of the world’s countries. The Museum’s Biodiversity Trends Explorer was created to help negotiators at COP15 and other policymakers compare the state of local ecosystem biodiversity and it showed the world has crashed through the ‘safe limit for humanity’ for biodiversity loss. Meanwhile, Green Finance Institute’s Finance Gap for UK Naturereportsaid that the UK will need to increase its investment in nature by at least £44bn and by as much as £97bn, by 2032, to meet its own environmental commitments. Critical to meeting the required investment is the mobilisation of private capital.

While net zero commitments will continue to be a key focus of business and government sustainability goals following COP26, we expect that next year there will be increasing emphasis on the protection of nature and businesses will need to factor this into their environmental targets and assessments.

Back to COP26, and the weight of evidence demanding big ambition to decrease emissions is increasing by the day. The World Energy Outlook 2021 from the International Energy Agency shows a new energy economy is emerging, but that the move to clean energy is still far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero. The analysis revealed that despite the growth of renewables, the world’s consumption of coal is increasing strongly this year and is pushing CO2 emissions towards their second largest annual increase in history.

A report from Generation Investment Management also showed that listed companies contribute much more towards global emissions than previously thought, with analysis showing they are responsible for 40%. This emphasises the important role that investors play in the transition to net zero.

Looking ahead to next week, we’ll be following news from the Global Investment Summit on Tuesday, where the Prime Minister and members of the Royal Family will be showcasing the UK’s commitment to a green industrial revolution. And we expect media coverage on all things ‘climate’ to continue to ramp up as we approach the conference.