Coal appeared under siege yesterday as Cop26 president Alok Sharma revealed that £13 billion had been committed to help the green transition. As the UK hurtles towards a coal-less energy mix by 2024, UK Energy Minister Greg Hands told delegates that “we must put public finance on the right side of history.” But the four hundred mile-long shadow of the Scottish Cambo oil and gas development was an awkward presence, with one report estimating an annual emissions equivalent of 18 coal-fired power plants, while coal producers will be distracted as they revel in the impact of the energy crisis with one of the best years for the industry on record.
CBI Director Tony Danker said that the UK government’s decarbonisation initiatives bring “substance” to the Prime Minister’s levelling-up agenda. Speaking at COP 26’s largest business dinner, Danker argued that after Brexit and Covid, “decarbonisation is our big bet”. The implication that decarbonising is the gamble here was curious compared to, well, carbonising in the context of economic climate costs. But this was the CBI’s way of blessing the green agenda. Rumour has it dignitaries flocked to the prestigious sup in droves for tastier unsustainable burgers and high-carbon mozzarella while environmental campaigners wrangled with hyperbole about the COP26 menu; “utterly reckless”, “like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference”, “an insult to future generations” – climate-nemesis-haggis remained indifferent as ‘Glasgow culture’ searches rocketed up 300% globally this week.
Student marches and a giant iceberg from Greenland highlighting the titanic plight of the Arctic arrive on Glasgow’s streets today, but Friday's COP focus on youth and public empowerment will struggle to resonate. If this first week is any indication, it is that neither youth nor the wider public – many of whom participated in the biggest climate protest in history – require empowerment. Without stronger enforcement mechanisms, Wednesday’s climate financing models cannot help poorer nations implement a more diversified energy mix and voluntary pledges on deforestation, methane, coal, and clean tech will sink and swim as sea levels continue to rise. It's all to play for next week.
Stat of the Day
International Energy Association reports that COP26 climate pledges could help limit global warming to 1.8 °C if implemented
(Source: International Energy Association)
Shock of the Day
Average global sea levels rose by 8 eight inches between 1901 and 2018, faster than at any other time in the past 3,000 years