The coming year will be critical in setting the direction for what is widely seen as the ‘decisive decade’ for action on climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Thankfully, contrary to earlier fears that climate action would fall victim to the Covid-19 pandemic, governments and corporates are instead strengthening their commitments to net zero. News that the EU increased its emissions reduction target for 2030, from 40% to 55%, has been followed by a pledge from China to aim for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060 and from Japan and South Korea by 2050. Meanwhile, the election of Joe Biden as US President is boosting hopes that the COP26 climate talks next November will lead to accelerating progress.
Key dates for climate policy
Dec 12 Global Climate Summit (UN/UK)
Jan 5 Georgia Senate Runoffs (will determine control of the US Senate)
Jan 25 Climate adaptation summit (Netherlands)
March China’s 5 Year Plan and Vision, 2035 outline
Q2 US Budget approval under new Administration
Q2 EU legislation on 2030 “Fit for 55 Package“ and sustainable finance
TBD G20 Summit Italy
H2 IPCC Climate Change reports on Mitigation (Jul) and Adaptation (Oct)
Nov 1-12 COP26 negotiations, Glasgow UK
Q4 EU draft legislation on circular economy
One reason why climate action has fresh momentum is that policy-makers are folding it into their efforts to achieve a ‘just transition’ and ‘build back better’ by addressing social inequality and broader environmental goals. The pandemic is highlighting the connections between people and the planet. Indeed, that’s why the SDGs are presented as being indivisible.
This was the theme of the sustainability panel entitled ‘Building Back Greener and Better’* at the recent Institute of International Finance (IIF) Annual Members Meeting, which I had the privilege to moderate. The expert panel included Ben Caldecott (Oxford University), Elsa Polanza (Barclays) and Emmanuel Martinez (SocGen). It struck an optimistic note on the prospects for action from policy-makers, corporates and financial institutions in the coming year.
The video of the webinar is now available for viewing on YouTube